1st prel. Stat.
2nd prel. Stat.
3rd prel. Stat.
The Christian Shrines of Jerusalem
The Garden of Gethsemane -
Kidron Valley Part 2
The Grotto of Gethsemane has been considered by the Mother Church of Jerusalem to be the place where Jesus, betrayed by Judas, was arrested and the site where Jesus left his disciples before retiring to pray. This tradition is already attested in the writings of St. Jerome in the IV century.
Inside the cave, which has an impressive stone vault, there are three altars with murals over them. Over the high altar there is a representation of Jesus Praying among the Apostles, while the paintings over the side altars depict the Assumption of the Virgin and the Kiss of Judas.
The Church of the Tomb of the Virgin is not far from the Grotto of Gethsemane in the Kidron Valley. Also known as the Church of the Assumption, this church is a reconstruction carried out by the Crusaders in the eleventh century, of a Byzantine church built in the fifth century. A stairway leads down into the underground burial chamber where the so-called Tomb of the Virgin can be seen. It stands in the center of the crypt, which is adorned with paintings, valuable icons and fine lamps.
Going up the slopes of the Mount of Olives one comes across the Church of Saint Mary Magdalene, a typical Russian church with seven golden onion domes with crosses on top. It stands on the western slope of the Mount of Olives. It was built in 1885 by Czar Alexander III in memory of his mother, Maria Alexandrovna. The church houses numerous paintings, valuable icons and the tomb of Grandduchess Elisabeth Fedorovna, murdered by the Communists in 1917.
The Church of Dominus Flevit is a Franciscan church built by architect Antonio Barluzzi on the site of the remains of a fifth century building. The window over the altar offers an incomparable panorama of Jerusalem.
The name of the church (The Lord Wept) is taken from the Gospel account of Christs weeping before the city unaware of its fate.
The Chapel of the Ascension rises on the site of an ancient Christian sanctuary, near the top of the Mount of Olives. The original building was surrounded by a double portico forming a circle. Destroyed by the Persians in 614, it was rebuilt by the Crusaders in the form of a small, octagonal temple, in the twelfth century.
During the thirteenth century the building came under the control of the Muslims, who converted it into a mosque.
On a rock inside one can see the form of a footprint which is identified according to ancient tradition as the print that Jesus left as He ascended to Heaven!.
Kidron Valley lies between the Old City of Jerusalem and the Mount of Olives. It is replete with impressive burial chambers built during the period of the First Temple. Absalom's Pillar, the Tomb of Saint James and the Tomb of Zacharias are the most notable.
On the other side of the Kidron facing the Mount of Olives rises also the area of Sion. Here, besides the Cenacle, one finds also the Church of Saint Peter in Gallicantu. This was built in the 1930's by the Assumptionist Fathers, on the site of an ancient Byzantine basilica which, in turn, a tradition holds that it was built at the site of Caiaphas' house.
Its name recalls the threefold denial of Peter, before the cock crew twice, as recounted in the Gospels.
A very ancient flight of steps called the Maccabee Steps can be seen in the garden of the Church of Saint Peter in Gallicantu. The steps were certainly in use at the time when the events narrated in the Gospels were taking place. Jesus probably descended on them the evening of his arrest, when He went to pray in Gethsemane.
The Grotto of Gethsemane (36KB) --- small image (12KB) --- large image (116KB) --- detail (large) (191KB)