Cecilia is a 20-year old student of Administration of Services at the Universidad de Piura (University of Piura). She graduated from Salcantay in 2013, and she tells us that it was her long time wish to visit the Holy Land: “Everybody told me it was a dangerous place, but I only thought that nothing would give me more peace than coming to the Land of Jesus.”
Cecilia is a volunteer at the library of Polis, the Jerusalem Institute of Languages and Humanities.
I applied to come to help at Polis, which works together with Saxum, a house for coexistence and retreats that will welcome pilgrims from different parts of the world so that they can learn the real meaning of the Holy Land. This project began when Blessed Álvaro del Portillo came to the Holy Land and realized that there were no Christians in this area. Islam invades everything, and there are no Christians in the holy places anymore. The main objective of Saxum, which will be inaugurated in November this year, is to invite Christians to come to the Holy Land and have them soaked in grace.
Everything I have experienced during this time is impressive. The faith of people is amazing and, in spite of being a few kilometers away from Gaza, we breathe peace. This is a super enriching experience, the trip that has helped me the most. The other day I went to mass in a basement where Arabs who had recently converted to Catholicism, and who are now persecuted, went to receive the communion.
I have visited the Mount of Olives, the Portal of Bethlehem and the Cenacle, which is the place where the Last Supper was celebrated. I visited Nazareth, and I go very often to the Holy Sepulcher. This is the place that attracted me the most.
Another thing that has also caught my attention is how the Jewish people live their faith. They live Shabbat on Saturdays. That day is sacred; people are faithful to what they believe in, and they do not argue. They live in a coherent manner and, despite that they are a little bit radical sometimes, they never criticize their beliefs. This has helped me to love and value spiritual formation, which is my responsibility as a Christian, and it’s not about just being a “fan.” I am taking this opportunity to grow more and more in faith.