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"ON THE THIRD DAY THERE WAS A WEDDING IN CANA OF GALILEE,
AND THE MOTHER OF JESUS WAS THERE.  JESUS AND HIS DISCIPLES
HAD ALSO BEEN INVITED TO THE WEDDING."                  JOHN 2     
                                                   

Holy Sites -- Gila's Highlights

Let's renew marriage vows in Cana of Galilee

It was on Tuesday in Cana of Galilee that Jesus made the first of his miraculous signs when he turned water into wine.  Jesus, his mother and the disciples had come from the village of Nazareth, less than five miles away, to attend a wedding in Cana.

Jewish weddings in Israel to this very day are commonly celebrated on Tuesday.  The reason is simple and based upon the creation story in the first chapter of Genesis.  On the third day the Lord created dry ground which he called “land” and gathered the waters under the heavens into places he called “seas.” He saw that it was good.
Furthermore on the third day, the Almighty created vegetation, seed-bearing plants and fruit trees.  And again, he saw that it was good.  Tuesday, then, was the day which received a “double blessing.”  Therefore popular belief has it that a bride and groom are doubly blessed if they marry on “the third day!”

Nowadays at Jewish weddings, friends escort the groom with lighted candles. It’s said that this custom derives from the time of the giving of the Ten Commandments at Mount Sinai, “And on the morning of the third day, there were voices and lightning and a thick cloud on the mountain.” (Exodus 19:15)  The candles are a reminder of the lightning that appeared when Israel (the bride) accepted the Almighty (the bridegroom).

Church of the Miracle of the Wedding in Cana of Galilee

Photo:  Gila Yudkin

Church of the Miracle of the Wedding in Cana of Galilee

According to a parable in the Gospel of Matthew, bridesmaids in the time of Jesus would escort the bridegroom to the marriage ceremony with lighted candles.  Jesus said, “The kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps and went forth to meet the bridegroom.” (Matthew 25:1)  Light in the Roman period symbolized purity.
According to “Daily Life at the time of Jesus,” when all the family and neighbors were gathered in the courtyard, a gala meal would begin.  Before the meal, however, guests would ritually purify themselves by washing their hands.  This custom is reflected in John 2:6, “Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing.”  Then the wine would flow freely, as we know from John chapter 2.  During the festive meal, poetry would be read and songs sung far into the night.

During the renovations celebrating the year 2000, the Wedding Church in Cana added to its premises a large lovely courtyard decorated with flowers and trees and clay jars. (The jars should be stone of course, according to John’s Gospel, but never mind!)  It’s the perfect enchanted atmosphere to host a

View from the courtyard of the Cana Wedding Church

rededication of marriage vows.

Photo:  Gila Yudkin

Courtyard of the wedding church

On a 2007 pilgrimage with 78 Americans of Vietnamese descent, I witnessed sixteen couples who renewed their wedding vows in Cana.  One couple, colorfully dressed in their traditional floral wedding robes to mark their fiftieth wedding anniversary, was particularly memorable.  When the priest asked them to face each other and to reiterate their wedding vows, they looked wide-eyed at each other, giggling like a couple of teenagers.  This touched off a cascade of giggles throughout the courtyard. It was truly a charmed moment.

Renewing wedding vows in Cana of Galilee

Photo:  Gila Yudkin

Couple renewing marriage vows on their golden anniversary at the Cana Church

 
After the ceremony, I asked Father Francesco who is now responsible for the church, whether Protestants, as well as Catholics, were welcome to use the courtyard to renew marriage vows and he responded most positively.  I’d be happy to help you include a ceremony renewing wedding vows on your next group pilgrimage if I am your guide.  It’s a whole lot of fun for everyone, even us single women!!!
 
Gila Yudkin has been guiding pilgrims around the Holy Land for the past 30 years. She loves tours that are fun, funky, reverent and memorable.
 

Map of Galilee in Jesus' day, showing location of traditional site of Cana

Adapted from Bible Mapper by itsGila

Map of Galilee in Jesus' day, showing location of "traditional" site of Cana

 
It wasn’t a coincidence that it was in Cana of Galilee that Jesus turned the six stone vats of water into wine. Throughout the district of Galilee, Dionysus the Greek god of wine, fun and pleasure was the undisputed king of the pagans.  See “Let’s consider whether Jesus visited Sepphoris” for Gila's spin on the exquisite mosaic dedicated to Dionysus.
 
More on the life of Jesus:
 

Let's meet where Mary met Elizabeth

Let's focus on Jesus' Ministry from Mount Arbel

Let's consider whether Jesus ever visited Sepphoris

Mary meets Elizabeth  

Public ministry at Mt Arbel

Hypocrites at Sepphoris

     

Let's gather by Bethsaida's city gate

Let's orient ourselves to Jesus' Jerusalem

Let's celebrate the epiphany by the River Jordan

1st c AD road at Bethsaida   

Model of Jesus' Jerusalem

Epiphany / River Jordan

 
 
"Let's renew marriage vows at Cana in Galilee" (as text without the photos) is one in the series of free bimonthly e-letters sent on request to tour leaders, pastors, clergy, teachers, Bible students, colleagues and friends.  If you'd like to receive "Holy Sites: Gila's Highlights" every other month, please contact Gila.  The last highlight was: "Let's sit in the Seat of Moses at Chorazin."  This month's highlight is:  "Let's imagine hungry lions in Beth Shean's amphitheater."  The next highlight will be:  "Let's follow David to the threshing floor at Mount Moriah."
 

Copyright 2007, 2012 Gila Yudkin.  Permission needed for any reuse.


GILA YUDKIN TCHERNIKOVSKI 64A JERUSALEM ISRAEL
gila@itsgila.com

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Holy Land Photography by Gila Yudkin