|203: Emmas des Croiss, Abu Gosh, Israel|
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Mystery Worshipper: Anonyma.
The church: Emmas des Croiss, Monastre de la Resurrection, Abu Gosh, Israel.
Denomination: Roman Catholic, Benedictine community from La Pierre-qui-Vire, founded in 1848, and present here since 1899.
The building: Tiny Romanesque crusader church built by the Knights Hospitallers in 1142 atop three Roman cisterns. One of four sites traditionally associated with Emmaus, where according to Luke the risen Jesus was known by the breaking of the bread. The walls of the crypt are the walls of the Roman cistern and there are steps down into the water bubbling from a spring.
The neighbourhood: Arab Christian village off the main road to Tel Aviv, not far from Jerusalem. Like everwhere else, it is "historic". It is traditionally held to be the place where the Ark of the Covenant stayed for 20 years before David took it to Jerusalem (1 Samuel 6:21-7:2). A church up the hill was built in 1924 for the sisters of St Joseph of the Apparition on the ruins of a 5th century church that had been dedicated to Mary, "Ark of the Covenant".
The cast: I do not know.
What was the name of the service?
Mass (largely sung, in Latin and French).
How full was the building?
Pretty full, with monks and nuns, some locals and tourists.
Did anyone welcome you personally?
Quiet, warm sweep of arm inviting me in.
Was your pew comfortable?
Simple, adequate wooden chairs.
How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
Quiet, barring a few very quiet whispers, while one of the nuns played the organ. Then the monks and nuns (about eight of each) processed, singing a capella.
What were the exact opening words of the service?
"Good morning." Before the service began, one of the monks explained the order of service and a bit about the place in English.
What books did the congregation use during the service?
What musical instruments were played?
Organ and voices some of the music was sung solo, or in duets, or involving the whole choir, while other music involved all of us, singing in plainsong and polyphany.
Did anything distract you?
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
Mysterious, spiritually and aesthetically enthralling. Except for the opening remarks, every word was in French or Latin, two languages I can read but which I have difficulty understanding aurally. I did not try. I simply let the sound surround me and I was part of it.