Sunrise Stroll & Chat at Magdala
By Fr. Cristobal Vilaroig
The learned Anglican priest Solomon Malan visited Magdala in April 1842 and pitched his tent just outside the village of el-Mejdel. A few years later, he published a little book entitled Magdala: A Day by the Sea of Galilee (1857), where he shares his experience:
“When I awoke at daybreak, all was calm and breathless. I hastened to dress so I might not lose an instant of this day. I left the tent and went up the hill behind it. I longed to see the sun rise over the Sea of Galilee. I shall never forget the first impression of that scene. As yet, the sun had not risen, but only bright fleeting clouds hovered over the birth of day while the lake lay still asleep in the gray shades of early morning. But anon, the snowy summit of Hermon gleamed in the sun as yet hidden behind it. And ere long it rose above the hills of Golan and shed its brilliant rays over the lake which, like an eye, sparkled at once with light and life—upon the hills that embrace it—and over the green meadows and lowly dwelling of Magdala. I sat down upon a stone on the slope of the hill, a little above the village, and in the solemn stillness of that hour, I opened the book and read:, ‘And He sent away the multitude, and took ship and came into the coasts of Magdala’ (Matth, 15, 39).”
Malan was not only a very competent scholar of ancient languages, but he also showed a deep artistic awareness—he left abundant beautiful drawings on the landscapes he contemplated—and a sensitive soul ready to find in everything he saw, especially in the Holy Land, the imprint left by God.
Picture: Solomon Malan, “Sea of Galilee, looking towards Magdala”, en A. N. Malan, Solomon Caesar Malan: Memorials of his Life and Writings, London 1897, p. 87