Good morning, time to get going. Yalla!
Today we bused over to the east side of the Old City to experience the Mount of Olives. Riding the buses is, as always, an adventure–but perhaps by the time we leave we’ll have it all figured out.
My matching kiddos on the bus.
Going into the Grotto at Gethsemane. The word “Gethsemane” is derived from the Aramaic for “oil press”–it was likely that, during Jesus’ time, olives from the garden above were crushed and pressed for oil in this cave. Our first stop was the Grotto at Gethsemane. We arrived at about 8:45am, and had the place virtually to ourselves. It was an amazing experience, and very sweet. The grotto is calm and quiet and beautiful, and very ancient. It is very likely was used during Jesus’ time, and likely looked very similar. (The inside dimensions, I mean. Not the buildings and the paintings and the chairs and the altar…)
Traditionally, there are two possibilities for the role this particular cave played in the last night of the Savior’s life. This may have been the cave where the apostles slept while Christ prayed. It is also possible that the Savior came into this cave for privacy, away from his friends, to begin His great atoning sacrifice.
Fourth Century mosaic floor in the Gethsemane grotto
“Stay here and keep watch with me” (Matt 26:38)
12 C. stenciled stars on the ceiling of the grotto
Explanation on the wall of the grotto.
Decorative stencils from the Crusader Era.
My wonderful kids. Outside of the entrance to the Grotto is the Church of the Tomb of the Virgin. Again, we were so lucky to almost have the place to ourselves.
Entrance of the Church of the Tomb of the Virgin. In Eastern Catholic religions, the Virgin Mary was resurrected three days after her death–thus, her tomb is empty. There was a very small shrine around the stone bench upon which she was laid. It was a very solemn, very beautiful, very dark, very full-of-incense church.
Church of the Tomb of the Virgin, entrance stairs. Photography was not permitted in the actual church.
Selfie at the Church of the Tomb of the Virgin
The Hebs at the top of a very tall wall.
The Golden Gates, or the Gates of Repentance. In all three major religions, the Messiah is expected to come through these gates for His judgement at the end of the world. Those who are buried nearby will be “first in line” for the resurrection. View from the path to the Church of All Nations. We then walked over to the Church of All Nations, which oversees the Garden of Gethsemane. This church was built with contributions from Catholic churches all over the world (hence the name). It is gorgeous!
Mosaic at the Church of All Nations. It was gorgeous and so much more beautiful in real life. Mosaics are so amazing to me! There are four statues on top of the pillars, each representing one of the writers of the Gospels.
Gorgeous bougainvillea–seriously, the flowers in this city are STUNNING. Church of All Nations, Garden of Gethsemane.
Matthew, holding a book, representing kindly and human deeds of the Savior’s life. Church of All Nations.
Eva and LaDonna. We visited on a Sunday, so the church was quite busy with services. Our main interest was the Garden of Gethsemane, so we weren’t too disappointed to not go into the Church of All Nations.
One of the ancient olive trees in the Garden of Gethsemane. These ancient tree trunks have been dated to the middle of the 12th C, but the roots have been radiocarbon dated to possibly as old as 2300 years ago. Remember that olive trees can be cut down and put out new shoots to create new trees. Although the first century Romans cut down all the trees on the Mt of Olives, it is possible that these trees sprang from the roots of the original trees.
Ancient olive tree
Gee by the bougainvillea, Garden of Gethsemane
Eva and LaDonna, Garden of Gethsemane
Yummy by the bougainvillea. Seriously, gorgeous kid, gorgeous plant.
Niche at the Garden of Gethsemane
Glass embedded at the top of tall walls, Mount of Olives walk. After walking around the Garden of Gethsemane–which slowly became more and more crowded–we decided to split up. Eva, LaDonna, Bradley, and Gee decided they weren’t going to try the climb up the Mount of Olives to see the other churches. They decided to go over to the Lion Gate and visit the Church of St. Anne’s (which, sadly, was closed on Sunday! Bummer.) and then perhaps do some shopping in the Old City. The rest of us–Em, Hebs, Zee, Yummy, and I–headed uphill to the Pater Noster Church (also closed, unfortunately; but at least we discovered that before we walked all the way up) and the Dominus Flevit Church. It was a really fun side trip for me and the kids.
Uphill, narrow street, cars actually drive here.
You can do it!
Vast Jewish cemeteries on the Mount of Olives, facing the Temple Mount. First in line for the resurrection!
Seriously, so many graves. Mount of Olives
Ossuaries (boxes for holding bones), First and Second Temple periods (from the time of Solomon to the time of Christ), with inscriptions in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. Dominus Flevit, courtyard, Mount of Olives
These ossuaries are just hanging out, piled together. So amazing. Courtyard of Dominus Flevit, Mount of Olives
View from the courtyard of Dominus Flevit, straight across from the Temple Mount, looking across the Kidron Valley. Jewish legend states that, on the final judgment day, two bridges will be “thrown” across the Kidron Valley. One will be of iron, the other of paper. All will have to cross one of these bridges to be judged. The wicked will all choose the iron bridge, trusting in the strength of men. It will crumble into the abyss, carrying the wicked with it. The righteous will trust God and choose the paper bridge, and will be brought into the Messiah’s presence to be saved.
The tear-drop shaped “Dominus Flevit” (which means, “The Lord Wept” is the place where Christ wept over the city’s coming destruction. (Luke 19:41-44)
Yum, Em, and Hebs, journaling (or playing on their phones, I’m not sure which). Dominus Flevit.
Chickens! We may or may not miss our silly little burbs. Garden of Gethsemane, Mt of Olives. When we were done, we met up with the rest of our group at the Lion Gate. Some of the group were ready to head back to the apartments, and others wanted to explore the Old City some more. So we split up again–Gee, Em, Eva, LaDonna, and Bradley headed back and the rest of us became Intrepid Explorers of the Old City Bazaars. We bought a few groovy suvvies (souvenirs) and some delicious watermelon.
One of the many bazaar streets we traversed today. These (oddly shaped, very smooth, very slippery) paving stones are from the end of the Roman period, 3rd or 4th century AD.
You really can’t easily read the shiny sign, but it says “22K – 916 Gold”. I love the buttery-yellow color of high-karat gold, even if I can’t afford it. Old City Bazaar
These T-shirt shops are hilarious. You name it, they will print it on a T-shirt. Trademark infringement, what trademark infringement? 🙂
Apparently this says “Minnesota”, all we cared about it was the Viking, which is the same Viking used for my kids’ high school mascot.
The Med, the Red, the Dead! T-shirt shop in Old City
I love the random arches everywhere. Arch of the Virgin Mary, Old City.
Waiting at the bus stop, Jerusalem
Hebs REALLY wanted a watermelon, and in the middle of the Old City we found a good one. Of course, then we had to lug the thousand-pound melon all the way back to our apartment in Giv’at Sha’ul. It is the sweetest watermelon ever, though–totally worth it. (Says the woman who did NOT carry it for more than about three minutes.)
After spending several hours in the Old City, we decided to head home for a break. Imagine our surprise that the others weren’t there yet! They had decided to detour to a mall, and found a place for lunch. After wandering around the mall for a little while, they headed back to the bus stop…
…where Eva fainted! It was a pretty alarming few minutes there, but she is okay! Probably a combination of a different diet (more carbs and sugars than usual), not enough water, and maybe just tiredness. We’re all hoping a good night’s rest will fix her up. Thank goodness for Gee’s wheelchair, though. Once Bradley was able to get Eva back up, she sat in Gee’s wheelchair for the bus ride home and Gee walked–they were tired but happy to help!
The rest of the day was spend tending to Eva’s needs, going grocery shopping, cooking dinner, and–for me–writing this blog post! Hopefully all will be well tomorrow, and we can explore the City of David excavations and Hezekiah’s tunnel.