Monday, June 21, 2010

James Durham - East of the Old City

East of the Old City of Jerusalem, just outside the wall, lies the Mount of Olives and several sites of religious significance. The Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus prayed on the night before the crucifixion, is beautifully maintained by friars. The Garden is home to several ancient and venerable olive trees, contorted with age but still producing olives. The Church of All Nations, also known as the Gethsemane Basilica of the Agony, lies within the Garden and protects a stone outcropping where Jesus prayed. Two other churches have stood on this site, and their ruins are preserved in the Garden. The Tomb of the Virgin, the burial place of the mother of Jesus, is adjacent to the Garden of Gethsemane. The site is shared by various Christian sects, and also is venerated by Muslims because Muhammad is reported to have seen a light over the tomb on his journey from Mecca to Jerusalem. The Grotto of Gethsemane, next to the Tomb, is where the disciples are said to have rested while Jesus prayed in the Garden. The Mount of Olives also contains the largest and oldest Jewish cemetery in the world. Several notables, such as Prime Minister Menachem Begin, are buried at the site.

One of several aged olive trees protected within the walls of the Garden of Gethsemane.

Arches, columns, and capitals of the portico at All Nations Church on the Mount of Olives.

An altar within the Tomb of the Virgin.

Steps within the Tomb of the Virgin.

By James Durham, Touro Law Summer Abroad Program in Israel 2010

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