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The Christian Shrines of Jerusalem

The Room of the Last Supper

Mount Zion lies to the south of today's city walls. Coming out of Zion Gate you are faced with the Benedictine Basilica of the Dormition.

The Dormition Abbey is a massive structure that rises on Mount Zion, just outside the Zion Gate, and resembles a mighty fortress; it is topped by a high, domed belltower, a conical dome and corner towers. This Benedictine Basilica, built over the site where Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, is said to have fallen asleep for the last time (Dormitio - from here one of the apocryphal writings describing this event).

It was completed by Kaiser Wilhelm II at the beginning of the twentieth century based on plans by Heinrich Renard who used as a model the Carolingian cathedral of Aix-la-Chapelle. The highlights are the mosaics and the wood-and-ivory statue of the sleeping Virgin in the crypt.

The Room of the Last Supper lies just outside the Dormition Abbey behind the Franciscan house on Sion. The whole area has been transformed by religious Jews into various Yeshivas (Schools of the Torah) especially due to the devotion for the Tomb of King David which is believed to be located beneath the Upper Room.

This was the seat of the Mother Church of Jerusalem for many years. This was also the first Friary the Franciscans bought through the Kings of Naples and from which they have been evicted. The structures around the "Upper Room" are in fact remnants of the Franciscan medieval Friary.

Upon entering the "Upper Room" you find yourself in a large hall. The ceiling is supported by three pillars which divide the room into three naves. The pillars and the arches, windows and other Gothic style architectural elements are a clear indication the room was built by the Crusaders in the early XIV century, on top of a much older structure most probably pre-dating the first churches erected in Palestine. This old structure, according to the archaeological research, was a church-synagogue of the early Christian community of Jerusalem.

The "Upper Room" brings to mind the scene of momentuous events recounted in the Gospels: the institution of the Eucharist during the Last Supper, Jesus' appearance before the Apostles after His Resurrection and the descent of the Holy Spirit over the Apostles at Pentecost.

The last episode is commemorated in the Chapel of the Descent of the Holy Spirit, exactly above the room where King David's Tomb is venerated.
After the Franciscan Friars' eviction, this room was transformed into a mosque, as evidenced by the mihrab (the niche indicating the direction of Mecca for prayers). The Arabic inscription prohibiting public prayer at the site, is still visible on the wall.



The Dormition Abbey

The Dormition Abbey (71KB) --- small image (23KB) --- large image (159KB) --- detail (large) (144KB)


A panoramic view of the Dormition Abbey (47KB) --- small image (14KB) --- large image (153KB) --- detail (large) (194KB)


Another view of the Dormition Abbey (26KB) --- large image (95KB) --- detail (large) (170KB)


The Dormition Abbey with part of Rampart's Walk (30KB) --- small image (9KB) --- large image (93KB) --- detail (large) (243KB)


A partial view of the Dormition Abbey (26KB) --- small image (8KB) --- large image (87KB) --- detail (large) (227KB)


A chapel of the Basilica of the Dormition (25KB) --- small image (8KB) --- large image (84KB) --- detail (large) (216KB)


The Crypt of the Sleeping Virgin (39KB) --- small image (13KB) --- large image (129KB) --- detail (large) (214KB)


A frontal view of the statue of the Sleeping Virgin (26KB) --- large image (85KB) --- detail (large) (213KB)


Another view of the Crypt of the Sleeping Virgin (37KB) --- small image (12KB) --- large image (130KB) --- detail (large) (186KB)


Mass in the Dormition Basilica (26KB) --- large image (85KB) --- detail (large) (214KB)

The Room of the Last Supper

The Room of the Last Supper (Coenaculum) (29KB) --- small image (9KB) --- large image (99KB) --- detail (large) (147KB)


A partial view of the Coenaculum (18KB) --- large image (60KB) --- detail (large) (159KB)


Another view of the Room of the Cenacle (33KB) --- small image (32KB) --- large image (114KB) --- detail (large) (193KB)


The entrance to King David's Tomb - The Coenaculum is on the upper floor (25KB) --- large image (84KB) --- detail (large) (247KB)


King David's Tomb (34KB) --- small image (11KB) --- large image (107KB) --- detail (large) (174KB)


The Zion Gate (35KB) --- small image (10KB) --- large image (117KB) --- detail (large) (308KB)

© copyright 2001. Reflections and Prayers by John Abela ofm
Descriptive text by John Abela, ofm and Michael Olteanu
based on research by Albert Storm (SBF - Jerusalem)
Hi-Res pictures prepared by Michael Olteanu
Display pictures prepared by John Abela ofm



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