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

Topographical Visit To The Mount Of Olives

 
 

Jerusalem 19 September 2013
Report by: James Samynathan

The topographical visit to the Mount of Olives was an enthralling experience for all the first year students. We, as a course, made this trip on19th September, 2013. The Mount of Olives is the hill facing the old city of Jerusalem, on the eastern side of Kidron valley.  Its name came from the olive trees that once grew on its hillside from ancient times. According to Jewish tradition, the Messiah would appear there and bring the dead back to life. Therefore, the hillside became the holiest Jewish cemetery, and is covered by thousands of graves. Jesus had many encounters on the Mount of Olives. Today the area has many Churches that were built to glorify His many significant actions in this part of Jerusalem.

Our starting place was the church of the "Pater Noster", which remind us of the fact that it was here that Jesus taught his disciples the “Lord's prayer”. Rev. Fr. Paul M. Afr., explained to us the hallmark of this holy place. His excellent explanation helped us to understand and appreciate the worth of visiting all these biblical historical places.  Then we walked from there to pay a visit to the other remarkable holy places which are located on that slope of the Mount of Olives. The places are: the Chapel of the ascension of the Lord Jesus, Dominus Felvit, the Basilica of the Agony and the tomb of our blessed mother Mary. 

1. Pater Noster:
The convent, controlled by the Carmelite Cloistered Sisters, is located at the site of the ruins of the "Eleona" Basilica, built in the 4th century by Constantine. The Byzantine church was built over a cave where according to tradition was the place where Jesus stayed with his disciples and taught the "Our Father" (Pater Noster) prayer, one of the most important prayers in Christianity. The Crusaders rebuilt part of the church, and a new convent was built in the 19th century.    

2. Chapel of Ascension:
A sacred chapel on Mt Olives, where according to tradition is the site from where Jesus ascended to heaven 40 days after resurrection. The octagonal Dome, built in the center of an enclosed yard, was built over an earlier Byzantine chapel and later a Crusader - chapel. The ruins of the chapel are located in the suburb of A-Tur, on the east side of the main road on the top of the Mount of Olives, at 830M above sea level.  It is easily accessible, and you can park close to its entrance.  Near the Ascension chapel is the Russian Orthodox Church of the Ascension, which is another traditional site of the ascension. It is located near a tall tower inside the village of A-Tur.

3. The Basilica of Agony
A Catholic Franciscan church, built in 1924 by donations from many nations (hence one of its names). It is one of the most magnificent churches, located on the east bank of valley Kidron at the foothill of Mount of Olives. The front of the church, facing the temple mount, is covered by a large mosaic picture. According to the new testament, this place was the site where Jesus  had his last prayer before he was   betrayed and arrested by the Romans.   The church is built on the lower western foothills of  Mount of Olives, facing the old city of Jerusalem, on the eastern side of Kidron valley.  Its name (Gat Shemanim - means in Hebrew: oil press) came from the olive press that was used to process the olives. The church is located on the junction of 3 roads - to the old city via Lions gate, the road up Mount Olives, and the road to Jericho.
  
4. Dominus  Flevit
A Catholic Franciscan church,  on the foothill of Mount of Olives, where Jesus visualized the destruction of Jerusalem and wept.  The church is shaped as a tear drop. A Roman-Byzantine necropolis was also excavated at the site, revealing rich findings.   The church is built on the lower western foothills of  Mount of Olives, facing the old city of Jerusalem, on the eastern side of Kidron valley.  It is accessed by foot through a steep walkway, from either the top of Mt olives or from the bottom near the Basilica of Agony and Mary's tomb.

5. Tomb of Blessed Mary:
A church at the traditional place of the tomb of the virgin  Mary, mother of Jesus. The church is cut into the rock and has a form of a cross, with a wide staircase leading down into the church and tomb.  According to tradition, Mary ascended into heaven. The tomb became the shrine for the assumption into heaven, hence the name of the church. The Church is located in an underground rock-cut cave in the valley of Jehoshaphat, on the foothills of Mount of Olives.  It is the first monument that is seen on the left side after crossing the bridge over the Kidron brook, just before the basilica of Agony (Gethsemane).

Mount Olives
 
Mount Olives
 
Mount Olives
 
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