Monday, 28 March 2011

Jerusalem (Mount of Olives), Israel

Walking out Lion's Gate of the Old City one encounters the Kidron Valley and, rising up above it, the Mount of Olives.  This is an area rich with religious history and it is mentioned frequently in the New Testament.

The first stop of the day was Mary's Tomb.  Interestingly, Christianity holds that Mary died of natural causes, and that on the third day after her death she was resurrected.  According to this tradition, her soul and body were taken up to heaven so that the tomb believed to be Mary's was found empty on the third day.

Mary's tomb is located down a long flight of dark stairs.  In this picture, I'm standing at the bottom.

Down the stairs there is a small chapel.  On the alter, a picture of Mary and Jesus.

  Incense burners were everywhere, even hanging from the ceiling.

The tomb believed to be Mary's.  As you can see, it is empty.  

Next to Mary's Tomb is the grotto where Jesus met with his disciples on a regular basis.


Across the street from Mary's Tomb and Jesus' Grotto is the Church of All Nations (aka. The Church of Agony).  This church is located next to the Garden of Gethsemane.  According to the bible, Jesus came to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray immediately after the Last Supper.  According to Mathew (26:42) in the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus uttered the words, "My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass me by.  Nevertheless, let it be as you, not I, would have it."  And later, "If this cup cannot pass by, but I must drink it, your will be done!"  In agony, it is said that his sweat was drops of blood.

Jesus was later arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane.

The Church of All Nations is a beautiful church.

Loved the windows.

Olive trees in the Garden of Gethsemane.

The Mount of Olives also has the Jewish cemetery as well as astounding views of the Old City on the opposite side of the Kidron Valley.

Jewish cemetery.

Sister with donkey sitting outside of the Jewish cemetery.

View of the Dome of the Rock from the Mount of Olives.

Next, we visited Dominus Flevit, a Roman Catholic Church on the Mount of Olives.  According to the Gospel of Luke, it is here that Jesus began openly weeping when he predicted the Jewish diaspora (the forced expulsion of Israelites from parts of Israel, Lebanon and Jordan).  If you remember, Jesus was a Jew himself...

Dominus Flevit

On the Mount of Olives, there is also the Church of the Pater Noster, built at the place where Jesus taught his disciples the Lord's Prayer (aka. Our Father).  As you can see from the picture below, the Our Father is shown outside the Pater Noster in dozens of different languages.

Our Fathers written in different languages outside Pater Noster

Finally, there is the Church of Mary Magdalene.  Mary Magdalene, a disciple of Jesus (yes, not all of Jesus' disciples were men) witnessed Jesus' crucifixtion, burial, and was the first person to see Jesus after his resurrection.  As a historical character, I find her interesting because she's often portrayed as a "prostitute" in Christianity.  However, some Gnostic gospels describe her differently--as Jesus' greatest confidante.  There is even speculation (unsupported by the Catholic church, of course) that Mary Magdalene was Jesus' significant other and bore him a daughter.  I find this latter viewpoint most compelling. 

Mary Magdalene's Church, exterior.

Mary Magdalene's Church, interior.

This more or less capped off our day on the Mount of Olives.  There are several other churches to see, and I would recommend at least half a day.  Bring good walking shoes and water!  This is a hilly area.  


  1. May I use your Mt of Olives pic in a blog. It will not be used for profit.

  2. Hi Chuck. Yes, please feel free to use these pictures or any others you see on the blog. :)