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Christina Colors the Holy Sites
By Maria C. Khoury

As the Palestinian Christians are decreasing in high numbers many wonder what the value of a pilgrimage is today to the sacred land where our Lord was born. Christina might be unknown to many but for some, who have grown up with Christina since 1992, they have seen her first go to Church and become knowledgeable about the symbolism of the Orthodox Church in terms of why we light candles and why we kiss the priest's hand in the very popular, "Christina Goes to Church." Young children have seen Christina grow closer to God as she practices her numbers in "My Orthodox Counting Book," and learns the alphabet in "You Are Special," reflecting how wonderful the Christian identity truly is in our multicultural world today.

Finally by elementary age, Christina, the ideal Orthodox Christian character illustrated originally by a beloved friend, Antonia Marshall, finally learns why some people become priests in "Christina Learns the Sacraments." Since it is natural to grow closer and closer to God, this "ideal" little Christian child learns more about people who have deeply devoted their lives to God in "Christina's Favorite Saints” and “Christina’s True Heroes."

One such saint mentioned who has contributed tremendously to preserving our Christian presence in the Holy Land is Saint Helen who found the Life Giving Cross in Jerusalem. Without the great works of St. Constantine and Helen, we would not have the most precious Christian sites that one can visit in the world today. Even Present George Bush admitted this fact in his recent visit to Palestine.

Christina being so curious, adventurous and pious must visit these holy sites with her family, timeless of any violence and catastrophe taking place in the Land of Christ's holy resurrection. This magnificent trip to the Holy Land is exactly what Christina and her family accomplish in the story during the pilgrimage of a life time in "Christina Goes to the Holy Land." They actually walk in the footsteps of our Lord and Savior, step by step and see where He was born, baptized, and said "no" to Satin on the Mount of Temptation.

The new book in the Christina Series is a simplified coloring book of the holy sites based on the original Christina Goes to the Holy Land entitled “Coloring with Christina”. The coloring book will make a great gift for children less than six years of age or for any child who will enjoy walking the footsteps of Christ by coloring.

Coloring with Christina also includes simple text for children to explain the importance of Bethlehem as the birthplace of Christ and Jerusalem as the place of Christ’s Holy Resurrection. Furthermore, it’s spiritually enriched with quotes from the holy gospels making it wonderful for bedtime reading or Sunday school classes that have time for supplemental and enriched learning.

The Holy Land can no longer survive without pilgrims coming to venerate the precious and holy sites of our Lord and Savior. Since September 2000, the Second Uprising, the violence and bloodshed has kept pilgrims away but truly what the Holy Land needs in order for more jobs to be available in the Christian community is for the pilgrims to return and continue to venerate and walk in the footsteps of our Lord and Savior. If the visit of the President of the United States accomplishes nothing in creating a just peace for all people at least it should encourage others to make the pilgrimage of a life-time.

Christina visits the one and only all-Christian village left in Palestine, "Taybeh" where the church is making efforts to build homes and help with university tuitions, realistically referring to the Taybeh Orthodox Housing Project and the Taybeh Education Fund, Now Christina has a new mission to go back to her school, church and American community and let them know of this great need.

Knowing the generosity of Christians abroad and American people at large, for sure the Taybeh community will be saved for another few thousands years to come in order to maintain its true unique Christian identity. The village of Taybeh, has the innocent character of being Christian since the time of Christ in the Biblical land of Judea now on the highest mountain region of the West Bank producing by the way the highest quality olive oil and finest beer in the Middle East. Taybeh is the Biblical town of Ephraim where Christ came for a retreat right before His crucifixion mentioned in John 11:54.

If you have never thought about such a pilgrimage, think about it today. A visit to the Holy Land is the ultimate way to show support and solidarity for the small struggling Christian community in Palestine. But please ask for a Christian tour guide and stay on the East side of Jerusalem where most of the faithful work in the hotel industry. We urge you to show financial, social, emotional, spiritual and genuine support for the Christian community in the Holy Land. Please come and pray with us at Saint George Greek Orthodox Church of Taybeh, after all, the fictional character "Christiana" has done so.

Note: Coloring with Christina is available from Holy Cross Bookstore, Religious Education Department of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese and St. Nektarios Press.


Dr. Maria Khoury

Dr. Maria Khoury

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