We paused briefly to view from a distance Herod's hilltop palace of Machaerus where John the Baptist was imprisoned.
The grisly tale of lust and vengeance is familiar to you, I'm sure. In a moment of rashness, entranced by Salome's graceful dancing, Herod offered her just about anything her heart desired, and she chose John the Baptist's head on a platter.
And this was where it happened. As we stood there I read aloud from Mark's account in the Bible. The chill that went through us wasn't entirely due to the wind.
At our next stop, Madaba, to look at the ancient mosaic map of the Middle Eastern world in the Greek Orthodox Church we got more than we bargained for.
Without warning there was sudden scurrying and gestures to move back, and the next moment the Russian Orthodox Patriarch of Moscow emerged from a limousine, accompanied by a black-garbed entourage.