Amer Shehadeh (BesTour) and I (Steve Ray) discussed the current situation in Israel with the Wuhan coronavirus shutdown. Amer explains the situation of Christians under the current isolation mandate and the condition of the holy sites.

(Picture: In Tiberias with David our driver, me and Janet with Amer Shehadeh.)

We discussed the shutdown of the Holy Sepulchre (video here) for the first time since the 1300’s.

Steve updates the situation with pilgrimages and promoting the new pilgrimage in July-August to make an alternative to those pilgrims who’ve had pilgrimages shut down due to the closures.

You can listen to our show here https://www.footprintsofgodpilgrimages.com/pilgrimage/summer-holy-land-pilgrimage/

Our segment begins at 18:24 minutes. You can also click on the audio below.


Was Jesus Clothed or Naked at the Crucifixion?

by Steve Ray on April 7, 2020

A few years ago I wrote an article entitled “Was Jesus Crucified Naked?” It generated a lot of comments, some very critical. A very kind person wrote to me today about that article saying they was uncomfortable with the idea that Mary was looking up at unclothed men on crosses.

It was my understanding that since the days of Noah the Jews considered it an offense to look upon the nakedness of another, on or off a cross. I admit freely that this is topic I have not spent much time researching. It does make me uncomfortable to think of the the Blessed Virgin and the women surrounded by naked men. Yes, I am a prude.
Perhaps ironically, I keep this quote on my desk – “He wanted every square inch of His body to witness to His love and Sufferings.”
Thank you for your time in this busiest week of the Liturgical Year. Blessings.

Thanks again Sandra for visiting my site and sharing your thoughts. You are very kind and have a very good heart. I am sure Our Lord looks down on you with great love and compassion.

One thing I have learned from my 180+ times in Israel and my studies is that we think of the Holy Family living like us. The lived in a very rustic, cruel and difficult time in history. For example, when I give me talk “ A Day in the Life of the Holy Family” at the cave where they lived in Nazareth I always ask, “What did the Mary do first thing every morning?”

Everyone instantly says, “Pray!” I ask, “Is that the first thing you do every morning?” They all have a sheepish look on their face and say, “No, we go to the bathroom.” Ah, say I, “That is what Mary did first thing too!” Then I ask the second question, “Where did she go to the bathroom?” They all have a blank look on their face. I say, “If you live in a small village about 2 acres in size with a population of about 250 and you all live in caves with no plumbing or electricity or modern conveniences, where did Mary, Joseph, Jesus and the other 247 people go to the bathroom?

Nazareth(Picture: The picture to the right is of two girls from the village of Nazareth over 100 years ago, getting water at the well a 15-minute’s walk away, just like Mary had to do several times a day.)

We always think that the Holy Family floated 3 feet off the ground but they really lived a very crude and rustic life. It was cruel and the Romans hated the Jews and their way of life. They did everything they could to control and enforce their cruel rule. The Romans treated Roman citizens well (example St. Paul, Acts 22:28 beheaded instead of crucified). But the Jews were not citizens. They were rowdy and always resisting and fighting the Romans.

This is why Paul was beheaded (capital punishment for a Roman citizen) and Peter was crucified (capital punishment for a non-citizen). Anyway, it is good sometimes to forget we are Americans living in a modern world with compassion, etc. and imagine what REAL life was like. In Judea, in the 1st century, it was quite different. The brutal Romans has no compassion for the Jews and couldn’t care less what Mary and the other non-citizen, despised Jews thought.

We sometimes read OUR experience and way of life into the stories of 2,000 years ago. But they lived very, very differently than we do today. Understanding the REAL Mary and Joseph helps us love them even more!

Just a thought. Sorry I went on so long, but it is something that helps us understand the Bible and the Faith a lot better if we understand the actual historical-cultural situation at the time.

God bless and thanks again! Happy Easter!

If you send me your mailing address I will send you my talk on “Mary, Real Girl & Woman of Mystery.” It is a gift for Easter ?


Here you will see the streets of Jerusalem compared a month ago and today. After a gorgeous video showing the inside of the Tomb, watch the closing of the Holy Sepulchre.

Watch the sad moment when the doors are locked and the custodian, my friend Omar, walks away. The movie was taken by my friend Jeries in Jerusalem who manages the church for the Franciscans.

For the official statements from the Church, click here

Join us July 29-Aug 7, 2020 in the Holy Land. Visit www.FootprintsOfGod.com. Contact our Reservations Team at 866-557-2364, or write them at FootprintsOfGod@ctscentral.net.


I love music from Israel and this is one of my favorite, itching to get back!!!

April 4, 2020

This musical piece is entitled “Darbuka la Corona.” It is a group of musicians playing from home and integrated into an orchestra. Quite nice. I listen to it every day as a type of prayer with the hopes of getting back to my favorite land soon. Enjoy! By the way, we have an interim pilgrimage […]

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Protestant Heaven vs. Catholic Heaven – Simpson Style

March 29, 2020

This got a chuckle out of me so I thought you might like it to. In a dream Marge sees Bart and Homer convert to the Catholic Church and go to Catholic heaven, leaving her behind in Protestant heaven, to her chagrin. Click HERE.

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Legatus March 2020 Holy Land Pilgrimage

March 12, 2020

Unhappily this trip was not able to proceed because Israel, for all intents and purposes, closed their borders to all travelers including Americans. Delta also canceled our flights. We are so sorry this has inconvenienced so many, not just our pilgrims, but travelers from around the world. UPDATE 3/12/20  Delta has now canceled their flights to […]

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Coronavirus and our March Israel Trip (updated 3/9)

March 8, 2020

See my Footprints of God blog. Israel has closed its borders for two weeks. Obviously this affects our March trip. Our April and May trips are still planned to travel. We hopefully anticipate that things will be open in Israel again by then. Stay tuned to our Footprints of God blog.  

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Update on our travels and the coronavirus

March 3, 2020

I am keeping our pilgrims and others updated on my Footprints of God site at https://www.footprintsofgodpilgrimages.com/blog/concerns-about-travel-and-the-coronaviris/ Just a note: As of today, in the United States there are currently 60 cases of coronavirus with six deaths. The facts are stated as of today on the CDC site. There are also only 15 people infected in Israel, mostly […]

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Good-bye Indefatigable Pilgrims: 13 Days thru Jordan & Israel: Comments & Farewells

February 21, 2020

We had a great 13 days together, 14 if you count the flight over. This was like a big Bible study visiting sites that most people never see in these biblical lands. From the mountains of Gilead in the north of Jordan down through Amman and Madaba in the mountains of Moab south through the […]

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Mass at Holy Sepulchre, Visit Garden Tomb, Rossini’s and free afternoon

February 20, 2020

Today is our last day of a long pilgrimage. After four full days and Jordan and nine in Israel the trip comes to a close today and everyone heads to the airport tonight. But we started with an early morning with Mass in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel in the Holy Sepulchre. We walked back for […]

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Holy Sepulchre, Ancient Walls, City of David Archaeology Site, Pool of Siloam, St. Stephens…

February 19, 2020

We started the day with a walking tour from the Notre Dame Center to the Holy Sepulchre. After a tour and visit there with time to pray, we walked to the Russian Church which has the ancient walls of Jerusalem proving that the Holy Sepulchre site was outside the city walls at the time of […]

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Temple Mount, Bethany, Jericho, Bethel & Satya

February 18, 2020

Another four amazing sites today. We started out on Temple Mount which is now under the control of the Muslims but where Solomon’s Temple once stood an the temple Jesus knew and loved. It is also called Mount Moriah. Then to Bethany where Jesus lived with Lazarus, Martha and Mary. It was his home and […]

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Today in 2 Parts: Mass at Bethlehem’s Milk Grotto, Abraham’s Tomb in Hebron, Herod’s Herodion and more

February 17, 2020

Well we’re off to a good start here in Jerusalem. We’re staying at the Notre Dame hotel and this morning we takeoff for Bethlehem in the south. We started at the shop so people can buy some authentic Christian olivewood and religious items. Then we had Mass at the Milk Grotto where the Holy Family […]

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Samaria, Jacob’s Well, Sebaste, Joppa and David & Goliath

February 16, 2020

Today was one of the more interesting days in our Holy Land 2 Pilgrimage. We crossed into the Palestinian West Bank and switched buses for issues of safety. It was a little tense but we judged it safe and were blessed by our decision with an amazing incursion into the West Bank.  We drove to […]

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Our Dinner at Amer Shehadeh‘s Home and the Story of the Syrian Coffee Pot

February 16, 2020

We had an incredible dinner at Amer Shehadeh‘s house in Nazareth. He invited all 53 of our group to enjoy his wife’s fantastic cooking and the beautiful ambience of their home and family. Enjoy! Oh, by the way we also got him to tell the story of the Syrian coffee pot!

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Mount Carmel, Mount Muhraka and Fire from Heaven, Akko, Nazareth and Dinner at Amer’s House

February 15, 2020

Last night was reminiscent of the gospel story when the disciples got into the boat and Jesus joined them and the waves arose and the winds blew and they were afraid for their lives. They woke Jesus and he calmed the storm. There was no rain or storm last night but the winds were howling […]

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