“Alas! The glory of Israel, slain upon your heights! How can the warriors have fallen!” (2 Sam 1:19)
With these poetic words, found in the second part of the book of Samuel, King David mourns the death of
his king Saul and his good friend Jonathan whose tragic death occurred on the mountain of Gilboa. The
echo of these words accompanied our group of STS students who, last Thursday February 25th, around the
same geographical area, visited the Crusader fortress of Belvoir and the wonderful complex of
Bet'Shean, an ancient city whose walls saw the lifeless body of the wretched King Saul.
On a wonderful sunny day, our first destination was the crusader fortress of Belvoir known as "the star of
the Jordan" due to the shape of its construction and its ideal strategic position. It was Gilbert of Assailly,
the Grand Master of the Knights Hospitaller, who began the construction of the grandiose fortress in
1168. With the fall of the Crusader kingdom, the fortress was destroyed and fell into disuse. Nevertheless,
it remains to this day the best preserved Crusader fortress in the whole of Israel. From the fortress, we all
enjoyed the wonderful view of the valley, up to the sea of Galilee and the mountains of the Jordan
In the second part of the day, after visiting the fortress of Belvoir we enjoyed a visit to the ruins of the
wonderful Roman city of Scythopolis where the ancient city of Bet She'an was located. This is perhaps
one of the best preserved architectural complexes of the Roman period in Israel. The visit of the theatre
and the bath houses, the walk on streets guarded with Corinthian columns, and the wonderful view from
the tel, is a truly unique experience that speaks of the glory and splendour of a bygone time.
As a conclusion, we can say that the day was marked by an admirable spirit of fraternity among the
students and a deep desire to discover the legacy of antiquity. Due to the richness and beauty of the places
visited, the excursion left an excellent impression on us all. Belvoir and Bet Sh'ean are certainly two
places that are highly recommended to visit in Holy Land. For this opportunity that enriched our
experience and our love for the Land, all the students are very grateful.
- Diego Borbolla Jiménez SDB
February 25, 2021