JERUSALEM (JTA) — A delegation of Chilean miners who survived 68 days trapped underground in a collapsed mine recited a thanksgiving blessing with Israeli President Shimon Peres.
The 25 miners and their spouses or significant others met Sunday with Peres in the president’s official residence in Jerusalem.
Peres opened the ceremony by reciting with the miners the Birkat HaGomel, a thanksgiving blessing said after one escapes great danger.
"The whole world followed your rescue with excitement and your unbelievable display of solidarity and love," Peres told the miners. "You proved your determination and strong will, and we all prayed for your safe and complete return to your homes.
"Israel embraces you warmly and is proud to host you here in Jerusalem. It is a miracle from above that you are here with us today."
The representative of the Chilean miners, Raul Enrique Bustos, said that "We thank God for the opportunity he gave us to visit Israel, one that filled all of us with great joy. Today we all say thank you to the people of Israel and we are hopeful that God will bless Chile and Israel. The connection between our peoples will benefit from God’s blessing."
The miners arrived in Israel on Feb. 23 for an eight-day visit, billed as a "Pilgrimage of Thanks," which is being underwritten by Israel’s Tourism Ministry.
Their itinerary includes Christian holy sites such as the Via Dolorosa, Church of the Holy Sepulcher, Garden of Gethsemane and Room of the Last Supper in the Jerusalem area; the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem; and the Church of the Annunciation, the Sea of Galilee, Capernaum and the Mount of Beatitudes in Israel’s North.
The miners also visited the Western Wall.