A mix of spirituality and history was on order for today. We began with a visit to the Church of the Ascension, which is located at the top of the Mount of Olives. This was one of the first four churches in the world to be built, but was destroyed only 50 years later, and in the 13th century, it became a mosque. The Muslims have covered and preserved a rock shaped like a large footprint that is said to be the site of Jesus’ ascension into heaven.
From there, we visited the Church of Pater Noster, which is run by Carmelite Sisters. Tradition says it’s the first place the Lord’s Prayer was said. Then we trekked along the Palm Sunday Walk, which treats pilgrims to magnificent views of Jerusalem. The walk is a steep descent past a Jewish cemetery to Dominus Flevit, where Jesus cried when He saw the future of Jerusalem. A window behind the altar provides a great view of Jerusalem. From there, those taking the walk enter the Garden of Gesthmane, where the olive trees have been scientifically dated to be 2,000 years old. A basilica next to the garden houses the rock of agony where Jesus prayed.
The rock of agony is located in front of the altar at the Basilica of Gethsemane. The garden outside the basilica is home to olive trees that have been scientifically dated to be 2,000 years old. (Chronicle photo by Angela Kessler)
St. Peter in Gallicantu is a more modern church that was built at the house of Ciaphus, where Peter denied Christ. Dungeons below the house are where prisoners were kept, and Jesus was most likely held there before His crucifixion.
The rest of the day focused on King David. At the top of Mount Zion is a complex of buildings that include what is believed to be the tomb of David, the room of the Last Supper and Dormition Abby, which is supposed to be where Mary had her last sleep.
During a more detailed tour through the Jewish Quarter of the Old City, we saw architectural excavations that are ongoing in Jerusalem. While those inside the walls are impressive, those in the City of David are extravagant. Here in the original Jerusalem, historians and archeologists believe they may have found the foundation of David’s palace. Clues from the Bible and other nearby findings point to the idea that his palace was located at the site. Ruins and artifacts of ancient governmental offices are nearby. Some of the newest discoveries include a sewer system and marketplace near the temple area. The site is fabulous to see for both those interested in the biblical significance, but also those with an interest in history. More information on the ongoing programs there are available at www.cityofdavid.org.il and www.archpark.org.il.
We check out of our hotel tomorrow and have a full day scheduled before our 1 a.m. Thursday flight back to the United States. Because I won’t have Internet access, this will be my last post until after I return home.