Day10, May 10, 2017
Today we are in Jerusalem walking the route of the Palm Sunday procession. Across the street from the Jewish cemetery is the Church of Gethsemane (Pic 1) which means olive branch. This church is built at the base of the Mount of Olives where Jesus spent his final days on earth. Mass was being said while we visited the Church (Pic 2) and the altar is built on (or near) the rock where Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane (Pic 3). Our guide reminded us that it was Peter, James, and John who were with Jesus at the time of his transfiguration when they saw him in his divine state. Now these same three are with him at Gethsemane and see him in his human state. Jesus is in agony as he faces what is in store for him and saddened further by these three closest to him unable to stay awake and pray even one hour with him.
We next visited the Church of Beth-Phage, which means house (Pic 4) and is where Jesus set off for Palm Sunday. Riding on a donkey, he is greeted with Palms by a celebratory crowd. Here is Jerusalem, Palm Sunday is celebrated in a big way.
We followed this as we arrived at the church of Dominus Flevit, which means the Lord wept (Pic 5). It was from here that Jesus looked out over Jerusalem and predicted the destruction of the city and the destruction of the temple, symbolizing, of course, his own destruction (Pic 6).
Finally, the Church of St. Peter in Gallicantu, which refers to the cock crowing (Pic 7), is a three-story church with the top floor being the contemporary church. The story below dates back to the Byzantine era (4th century when Queen Helena, Constantine’s mother, built so many churches). On this middle floor, the side wall shows Jesus predicting that Peter will deny him three times before the cock crows. Icons above the altar depict St Peter’s denial, his repentant weeping, and his reconciliation with his Master on the shore of the Sea of Galilee after the Resurrection. From this floor, there is a glass visual through the floor where we could look down to see the dungeon below where Jesus was imprisoned (Pic 8). It is highly likely that this is the exact prison (Pic 9) because of it being found below a 4th century Church and its proximity to the palace of Caiaphas. It is also likely that this was the same dungeon that Peter and John were held and scourged for preaching about Jesus in the temple. This lowest story, the dungeon or sacred pit (Pic 10) is where our group read the Gospel and prayed (Pic 11). Outside the church, there are the sacred steps (Pic 12) that Jesus would have taken to come up and go down from this area.
In the afternoon, Julius and I walked on our own to a Lutheran church in Jerusalem. Quietly in a corner of the church, we lit candles and renewed our wedding vows to each other (Pic 13).