The 1st year students set out on the 3rd December for a visit to the Mount of Olives. The Mount of Olives offers the unique opportunity to get the lay of the land. Prominent sites of the Holy City can be spotted against the cityscape allowing one to enjoy a panoramic view.
Being surrounded by ‘history,’ our Guide Fr Gregor ofm, filled us in on the nuances of the landscape. From the umpteen number of graves that dotted the hillside, to the wry story of the Golden Gate. Ever one to expound, he helped us correlate scenes in the Bible with what we actually saw. From facts to faith, he explained all with the fervour of a historian and the integrity of a priest.
We began with a visit to a church in close vicinity to the Lion’s gate. Tradition venerates it as being the tomb of the Holy Virgin. However, due to the present circumstances, the site was closed to visitors. We then moved on towards the ‘Garden of Gethsemane’. The garden has a few archaic olive trees which historians agree to be about 800 to 900 years old. It is believed that the Crusaders chanced upon a very old olive tree and what we see today are all scions
from the said tree. Alongside is the ‘Church of the Agony’, popularly known as the ‘Church for all Nations.’ The architect, Antonio Barluzzi, built this church upon the ruins of a byzantine church. The structure is an assimilation of motifs from the byzantine and crusader eras, and a blend of modern architecture.
After a little hike, we soon found ourselves at ‘Dominus Flevit’ (quite literally ‘the Lord wept’). Constructed in the shape of a teardrop, to demonstrate Dominus Flevit, the chapel façade with its glass windows overlooks the Kidron valley and the old city. An interesting fact of its quaint design is that the cross on this façade is cleverly positioned to align the observer with the Holy Sepulchre in the cityscape.
This visit to the Mount of Olives was more than just a sightseeing trip. Insight into history brought us a new perspective. As we enjoyed a few cups of coffee against a golden sunset, we marveled at the solemnity which the old city exuded and its invaluable importance.
- Nathanael George SDB
December 3, 2020