Holy Week (Through Maundy Thursday)

Ross Fairweather

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

The focus today and tomorrow is Holy Week.

We departed on the bus at 7:45 am to go to the Mount of Olives. As its name implies, this is a hill covered with olive groves in Jesus’ time. From Bethany it would take about 20 minutes to walk up to the crest of the Mount of Olives, from there another 20 minutes to walk down to the (old) city of Jerusalem. The Mount of Olives features quite frequently in the account of Jesus’ last visit to Jerusalem. When he is not within the actual walls of the city or in Bethany, this is where he is found. Two particular episodes are remembered on the Mount of Olives: (1) his private conversation with some disciples about the future of the Temple, and (2) his final time of prayer before his arrest in Gethsemane, the olive grove at the foot of the Mount.

Because of the topography of the Mount of Olives we began at the top so we only had to walk down the mount. This means we step out of the chronological order of events, for now. Our first stop was at the Chapel of the Ascension on top of Mount of Olives. This chapel commemorates the place from which Jesus ascended. This chapel was originally open to the skies, but the Franciscans enclosed it during their renovations.  There is a stone within the chapel which is believed to be where Jesus stood before the ascension.

The sign for the Chapel of the Ascension.

The sign for the Mount of Olives and the Chapel of the Ascension.

The chapel is within the grounds of a mosque, because of the

The chapel is within the grounds of a mosque, because of the “status quo” Christians are granted access to the chapel for group visits and certain holy days.

The Chapel of the Annunciation.

The Chapel of the Ascension.

The chapel and the minaret...another reminder of how multiple faiths must live and work together in the Holy Land.

The chapel and the minaret…another reminder of how multiple faiths must live and work together in the Holy Land.

Inside the Chapel of the Ascension.

Inside the Chapel of the Ascension.

The stone tradition says Jesus stood on before the Ascension.

The stone tradition says Jesus stood on before the Ascension.

Crusader era columns.

Crusader era columns.

More Crusader Era columns.

More Crusader Era columns.

Again...more Crusader Era columns.

Again…more Crusader Era columns.

Again...more Crusader Era columns...I swear it is the last...for now.

Again…more Crusader Era columns…I swear it is the last…for now.

The next stop was the church called Pater Noster (or Eleona), which houses the never-completed shrine to the Lord’s Prayer during the reconstruction in the 1920s. It remains open air. But the real beauty is in the 127 different mosaics spelling out the Lord’s Prayer in different languages. This site also commemorates where Jesus taught the disciples about the end of time.

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Entrance into the Pater Noster complex.

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The walkways around the complex were lined with beautiful gardens.

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Map of the complex.

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The simple altar in the main sanctuary.

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A copy of the Rublev icon of the Trinity.

From there we continued on foot to Bethpage Church which represents Jesus’ triumphal entry. Even though he entered Jerusalem on a donkey, his supporters treated him like royalty. Bethpage is a place of friendships and relationships to Jesus. We learned that this is a place rarely frequented by pilgrimage tour leaders.

The sign for Bethphage Church where Jesus mounted the donkey for his entrance into Jerusalem.

The sign for Bethphage Church where Jesus mounted the donkey for his entrance into Jerusalem.

The entrance into Bethphage Church area.

The entrance into Bethphage Church area.

The front entrance into the church proper.

The front entrance into the church proper.

The mural above the altar in the sanctuary depicting Jesus' entrance into the city.

The mural above the altar in the sanctuary depicting Jesus’ entrance into the city.

The stone which tradition says Jesus used to mount the donkey.

The stone which tradition says Jesus used to mount the donkey.

Another side of the stone.

Another side of the stone.

Another side of the stone.

Another side of the stone.

A panoramic view of the church...the walls are covered in etched depictions of the story of Jesus on Palm Sunday.

A panoramic view of the church…the walls are covered in etched depictions of the story of Jesus on Palm Sunday.

A metal relief depicting Jesus riding the donkey.

A metal relief depicting Jesus riding the donkey.

We continued our downhill walk (in the hot dry weather) to Dominus Flevit … where Jesus wept. It was built by the Franciscans in 1955 over a Byzantine monastery; it is modern church that powerfully evokes that moment when Jesus began to weep for Jerusalem as recorded in Luke 19:41-44.

Our view of the Old City on our walk down the Mount of Olives.

Our view of the Old City on our walk down the Mount of Olives.

The sign for Dominus Flevit, Latin for

The sign for Dominus Flevit, Latin for “Jesus Wept>”

The entrance into the Dominus Flevit grounds.

The entrance into the Dominus Flevit grounds.

The church Dominus Flevit, it was designed to look like a teardrop.

The church Dominus Flevit, it was designed to look like a teardrop.

A Russian Orthodox Church on the Mount of Olives

A Russian Orthodox Church on the Mount of Olives

Another view of the church, Dominus Flevit.

Another view of the church, Dominus Flevit.

Perhaps the best view in the whole city...the altar of Dominus Flevit with the Dome of the Rock visible from the window behind the altar.

Perhaps the best view in the whole city…the altar of Dominus Flevit with the Dome of the Rock visible from the window behind the altar.

The Lancaster Seven sitting on the wall of the grounds with the Old City in the background.

The Lancaster Seven sitting on the wall of the grounds with the Old City in the background.

After leaving Dominus Flevit we continued to the bottom of the Mount of Olives to the Church of Gethsemane; on the grounds is a large church commemorating the story of Jesus in the garden and the garden itself with several very old olive trees…we’re talking almost two centuries old.  They are probably not form the time of Jesus because the Roman tenth Legion was stationed on the Mount of Olives and likely chopped down most of the trees.  We sat on the stairs of the church and heard the scriptures stories recounting Jesus in the garden.  Inside the church there was a mass taking place, so we were only able to take a few pictures without interfering.  After leaving the church we wound our way through the gardens taking in the smells from all the flowers.

The sign for the Garden of Gethsemane.

The sign for the Garden of Gethsemane.

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An ancient olive tree in the garden.

An ancient olive tree in the garden.

One of the many different flowers in bloom in the garden.

One of the many different flowers in bloom in the garden.

Our view across to the walls of the Old City from the steps of the church.

Our view across to the walls of the Old City from the steps of the church.

The front entrance to the church

The front entrance to the church

The organ and mural in the back of the church.

The organ and mural in the back of the church.

One of the many cross windows throughout the church.

One of the many cross windows throughout the church.

The mass that was taking place while we were there.

The mass that was taking place while we were there.

One of the designs on the ceiling.

One of the designs on the ceiling.

The dome above the sanctuary.

The dome above the sanctuary.

A mural in the church.

A mural in the church.

A mosaic cross on the floor.

A mosaic cross on the floor.

A mural depicting parts of the story of Jesus in the garden.

A mural depicting parts of the story of Jesus in the garden.

A view of how big it was inside the church.

A view of how big it was inside the church.

A metal sculpture of an olive tree by the main entrance into the church.

A metal sculpture of an olive tree by the main entrance into the church.

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Nearby was the grotto commemorating the assumption of Mary. I went down two stories of outdoor steps to get to the entrance, but was intimidated by the dark environment, so I watched Rob and Lauren descend into the depths of this shrine.  Nearby there was also another grotto that may have been where the disciples slept while Jesus prayed in Gethsemane.

The sign for grotto for the Assumption of Mary.

The sign for grotto for the Assumption of Mary.

The stairway down.

The stairway down.

A side chapel on the way down the twenty-four stairs.

A side chapel on the way down the twenty-four stairs.

Another side chapel.

Another side chapel.

The tomb of Mary where she was laid to rest before her Assumption.

The tomb of Mary where she was laid to rest before her Assumption.

The bishop's chair...well, not really a chair because in Orthodox services no sits and this site is run by the Armenian Orthodox Church.

The bishop’s chair…well, not really a chair because in Orthodox services no sits and this site is run by the Armenian Orthodox Church.

An altar in a sanctuary by the tomb.

An altar in a sanctuary by the tomb.

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The bus took us back to the college for lunch and a break.

Then we were back on board the bus and en route to Mount Zion. There we visited the Cenaculum which was where the Last Supper was held. The room is pretty much just a large room with very little Christian symbols left. Unlike most other sites, this one was jammed with visitors.

A column with a pelican...one of the only remaining Christian symbols left in the room.

A column with a pelican…one of the only remaining Christian symbols left in the room.

The room was taken over by Muslims and was redecorated with stained glass in Arabic and a spot carved into the wall for the Koran.

The room was taken over by Muslims and was redecorated with stained glass in Arabic and a spot carved into the wall for the Koran.

The next site was the church of St. Peter in Gallicantu which commemorates the trial of Jesus and his imprisonment.  The church is built into the hillside and has three levels, each commemorating different aspects of the story. Its main sanctuary in the uppermost level has natural light streaming through colorfully-stained glass in a contemporary French design. On the second level there is another sanctuary commemorating Peter’s denial. Then, in the lowest level is a small, dark and dank pit which we all entered. This pit is comparable to what biblical scholars believe Jesus was put in for the night after being arrested. We heard Psalm 88, the dark psalm of lament. We sang Ah Holy Jesus that classic Good Friday hymn, but it left me depressed after learning about what Jesus had to endure. Once we went back up two levels and headed outside, we saw a sculpture of Peter denying Jesus, saying “I do not know him.”

Sign for the church Peter in Gallicantu.

Sign for the church Peter in Gallicantu.

The church and in the far distance the separation wall.

The church and in the far distance the separation wall.

A panoramic view from the church gorunds.

A panoramic view from the church grounds.

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A mural from the first level of the church.

A mural from the first level of the church.

Another mural from the first level.

Another mural from the first level.

The stained glass in the ceiling of the first level.

The stained glass in the ceiling of the first level.

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An icon behind the altar on the second level.

An icon behind the altar on the second level.

The cross hanging above the altar on the second level.

The cross hanging above the altar on the second level.

Another icon on the second level.

Another icon on the second level.

A statue of Peter weeping.

A statue of Peter weeping.

Inside the pit where Jesus was imprisoned.

Inside the pit where Jesus was imprisoned.

Another view inside the pit...notice the crosses etched into the vent shaft dating from the Byzantine Era.

Another view inside the pit…notice the crosses etched into the vent shaft dating from the Byzantine Era.

Fr. Rob praying in the Pit.

Fr. Rob praying in the Pit.

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Statue of Peter denying Jesus.

Statue of Peter denying Jesus.

A relief of the scourging of Jesus.

A relief of the scourging of Jesus.

We really packed a lot of places and events in today as we remembered Holy Week…and we only got through Thursday! Tomorrow is the last day of class. It sounds like we’re in for a new experience where we walk the Stations of the Cross through the streets of Jerusalem. But no cameras! Stay tuned.

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