Wednesday, May 7, 2008


The places we visited in Jerusalem included: the Via Dolorosa, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Ethiopian Church, the Tomb of David, the Last Supper Room (Coenaculum), the Wailing (Western Wall), the Temple Mount, the Dome of the Rock, house where Mary was born, Mary's tomb, Mount of Olives, the Grotto of Gethsemane, and the Garden Tomb. We also walked around part of the ramparts.

There was much to see and do in the Old City. Each corner seemed to have a church or structure that had some biblical or historical importance. I talked about the number of people worshipping in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. The Wailing Wall on Passover was just as crowded. At first I didn't understand why a wall could be the holiest place for Jews but I later understood that it was the retaining wall of the temple wherein the holy of holies had stood. The wall butts up against the Temple Mount. The first and second Jewish temples had stood on the Temple Mount where the Dome of the rock now stands, and which is under Muslim control. Jews are forbidden, according to their Torah, to go to the Temple Mount because of its sanctity. It is believed that Abraham was prepared to sacrifice Isaac on the Temple Mount. The second temple on the mount was where Christ walked, preached, and performed miracles. The Dome of the Rock had been built by Muslims to commemorate Mohammad's ascension into heaven. In short, the Temple Mount is holy to all three religions: Islam, Christianity and Judaism.

One of the places we particularly enjoyed was the Mount of Olives which is a huge stretch of hilly land dotted with olive trees. It was more peaceful there, and I could understand why Christ liked resting here. There is a grotto near an ancient Roman cemetery, and this was where Christ and his apostles liked to stay. It was here where Christ experienced His "agony in the garden." A nearby church has a courtyard with ancient olive trees, some of which were witnesses to Christ's agony.

We also enjoyed visiting the Garden Tomb which has a lovely garden and a tomb site. A British had suggested that this was the actual site where Jesus was buried, but archeologists have disputed this. In any case the place is serene and it has many sections tucked away in the garden where people could meditate or have Mass.

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