Along the way, we stopped at churches associated with Christ's life and ministry -- the Church of the Ascension, the Church of the Pater Noster, where tradition holds that Jesus taught his disciples the Lord's Prayer; the teardrop-shaped Dominus Flevit, where Jesus wept over the fate of Jerusalem; and the Garden of Gethsemane (below) and its Church of All Nations. Gethsemane, with its gnarled, 2,000-year-old olive trees, was enough to inspire meditations on Christ's agony and betrayal, but the Church of All Nations (also called the Basilica of The Agony) certainly provided the proper atmosphere for such reflections as well. The dark church (the only true light comes from purple alabaster windows) holds the rock upon which Jesus was praying when he was arrested.
Next came our ascent up Mount Zion, stopping at the beautiful Church of Peter in Gallicantu, which commemorates Peter's denial of Jesus (gallicantu means cock crow). Tradition states that the site was the home of the high priest Caiaphas, and that Jesus was imprisoned in a crypt below the present church. Climbing a bit more up Mount Zion, we visited the site believed to hold King David's tomb and then the Upper Room, which commemorates The Last Supper.
After lunch in the Jewish quarter of the Old City, we traveled back 1,000 years before Christ to enter the City of David, a national park on the site where Jesus' ancestor ruled the city of Jerusalem, a little south of the walls of the Old City today. Excavations are ongoing at the site, where a large structure has been revealed that some archaeologists believe is David's palace. Our guide, Oren, then took us to Roman ruins that are currently under excavation, and we traveled through ancient sewers under a corner of the Temple Mount area to ruins from the Second Temple Period, which encompassed the life of Christ. One spot in particular piqued my curiosity. There are ruins of shops right outside the temple area, including that of a money changer. It was fun to imagine it was one of the money changers that raised Jesus' ire in the Book of Matthew.
Tomorrow is our final day in Israel. We will be visiting Yad Vashem and the Israel Museum, along with the site of the Visitation. I will post an update here at OSV Daily Take, and you can follow my Twitter updates at @shayesOSV.