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Ascension, Bethphage, Bethany - April 19, 2004



The Edicule ("small chapel") built by the Crusaders on the traditional site of Jesus' Ascension to heaven (Lc 24:50-53; At 1:9-11).

A mosque with its minaret stands next to the Holy Place which is owed nowadays by the Muslims.

Pilgrims are permitted to visit the precinct at whose center the octagonal shrine is situated.


Inside the octagonal Edicule, at floor level, part of the original rock from the Holy Mountain is revealed. From here, Jesus "was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight." (Acts 1:9)

The sculpted capitals decorating the eight sides of the Edicule are regarded among the best art exemplars from the Crusader Period in the Holy Land.

Inside the shrine of Bethphage a square, rocky stone is shown to the visitors. According to a medieval tradition, Jesus made use of this stone to help himself upon the donkey's back before his triumphal entry in Jerusalem (Mt 21:1-11).

Scenes painted on the stone relate to the evangelical accounts which did happen hereby: "Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied there and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to Me." (Mt 21:2)

A tomb from the times of Jesus which was found near the shrine of Bethphage.

General view of the Arab village of Bethany (al-Azariyeh).

Plan of the edifices pertaining to the Sanctuary of St. Lazarus in Bethany.

I - Ancient tombs.
II - First Church (4th cent.)
III - Second Church (5th cent.)
IV - Third and Fourth Church with the monastery (12th cent.)
V - Present Church and other buildings.

1) Present Church of St. Lazarus.
2) Mosque from the 16th cent.
3) Tomb of Lazarus.
4) Other tombs.

A - Entrance to the Franciscan church and monastery.
B - Entrance to the Tomb of Lazarus.


The rock-cut stairs leading down to the Tomb of Lazarus, seen from the antechamber.

The opening to Lazarus' tomb as it is today. "Lazarus, come forth!" (Jn 11:43)

The present church of St. Lazarus was designed by A. Barluzzi and built by the Custody of the Holy Land in 1952-1953. Archaeological excavations were previously conducted by S. Saller.

Click on the photos to enlarge.


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