Studium Theologicum Salesianum
Salesian Pontifical University : Faculty of Theology - Jerusalem Campus



Jerusalem, 15 September 2016

Eshun Mark, SDB

On this day after the Opening Ceremony of the New Academic year of the Studium Theologicum Salesianum (STS) Jerusalem Campus of the Salesian Pontifical University, the new students had the opportunity once again for another visit to some of the Holy places in Jerusalem. This time, the focus was on the Mount of Olives where we were met by Rev. Fr. Pol Vonck M. Afr., who took us round and exposed us to some important archaeological sites. Starting from the East of Jerusalem with a ridge of about 4 km long, we could see the cluster of Holy places all around us but the main focus was at the Mosque of the Ascension from where Jesus is believed to have ascended into heaven. The Eleona where He is believed to have taught the Pater Noster (Our Father); then through the old cemetery to the historical place of where Jesus sat and wept over Jerusalem. Then we continued to the Garden of Gethsemane and finally ended at the tomb of Mary.

Fr. Vonck made us understand that although Christians are the ones who frequent the place of the Ascension, a Muslim family manages it. Hence, it is called the Mosque of the Ascension. He made us understand that in the history of Jerusalem, three big early churches were erected to honour the Life of Christ. These sites were known as the Mystical Caves. There is a church in honour of the Birth of Christ, the Church for his teachings which is the church of the Pater Noster and finally the Church of the Holy Sepulchre where Jesus was buried.

From the place of the Eleona, it is wonderful to see the Pater Noster translated into about 175 different languages and even the twelve new students present were able to locate at least a language from our individual countries. These places kept our minds refreshed for we have been reading about them but had not seen their special characteristics. It was a moment for us to imagine what happened some centuries back as well as what will happen to our faith due to these experiences.

Interestingly, at exactly 12 noon we concluded our visit at the tomb of Mary with the Angelus before departing to our various homes.

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