Our field trip to Christian sites in the Old City is always my favorite. Sometimes it is called "The Christian Quarter" field trip because several of the sites are in the section of the city, but one of them St. Mark's, is in the Armenian Quarter, and as the students will see in our Last Week Walk, there are several important churches and Christian sites in the Muslim Quarter as well. Further, though we did not go to see it today, the remains of the apse great Maria Theotokos Nea church are in the Jewish Quarter, and several important Christian churches still stand, and function, on Mount Zion and of course on the Mount of Olives.
This is because for over three hundred years, in so-called "Byzantine Jerusalem," this was a Christian city and a largely Christian land, a phase of the Holy Land often forgotten because of its long, earlier Israelite and Jewish phases before and its dominant Muslim (and briefly Crusader) periods after.
Yet while the indigenous Christian portion of the city's population is the smallest and continues to shrink, it continues to evidence considerable vitality, bolstered, of course, by millions of Christian pilgrims and a small but helpful ex patriate community of which I am proud to be a part.
Earlier blog posts of this same or related trips can be found at the following links:
- Christian Jerusalem, Winter 2012,with good diagrams of Holy Sepulchre
- Part-way down More Bruce and Vivienne in Jerusalem for Alexander Nevsky and Holy Sepulchre
Custodia Terrae Sanctae
Custody of the Holy Land."
The main church of the Custodia is St. Savior's, whose tall roof and bell tower are a landmark in the Old City. It is, by Jerusalem standards, a relatively new church. Built in the Baroque style, it has been renovated a few times in its history. It serves not only the Franciscan brothers but also the local Arab parish.
After visiting this church and singing "All Creatures of Our God and King," we received a brief tour by Father Molina, who also took us to the tailor shop where habits for the order are made. This oldest section of the Custody used to be a hostel for Christian pilgrims, and it is believed that LDS pilgrim Orson Hyde stayed here, perhaps carving his name into the wood of a door frame like so many other pilgrims.
|In St. Savior's|
|In the tailor's shop|
|The so-called "Hyde Door"|
|Rachel pointing out the possible name "Hyde" (with the "H" having been closed into an "A")|
|Father Molina showing us an early Custodia key|
the Syrian Church is not part of the Eastern Orthodox communion. Rather it is an independent Eastern or "Oriental" church, together with the Copts in Egypt, the Armenians, and other ancient communities that did not accept the Council of Chalcedon (A.D. 451). They believe that their church was built on the site of the home of Mary the mother of John Mark (the traditional author of the gospel of Mark). If they are correct, then this would be site of the Last Supper, though the Byzantines and the Greek Orthodox and Catholics since maintain that this was instead on Mount Zion on the site of the current Cenacle. Many of them still speak Aramaic, the language spoken by Jesus and his first disciples.
|My only pictures of the altar of St. Mark's|
|Group pic in "the house down"|
|A copy of the church's most sacred icon, traditionally held to have been painted by St. Luke|
|Many pass the unobtrusive entrance to Alexander Nevsky|
These remains included the triumphal gateway into the Temple of Venus complex built in A.D. 135 by the emperor Hadrian when he re-built Jerusalem as a Roman city. It is believed that the Venus temple was built here to coopt the holy site of the Christians, namely where they had been commemorating the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. Nearby are the remnants of the earlier Herodian Wall, giving evidence for where the course of the wall was in the time of Jesus. In this wall are the remnants of a city gate, called The Gate of Judgment and believed to be the one through which Jesus passed on his way to Jerusalem. Just to the side of the gateway is a narrow slot that some have tried to argue is the "Eye of the Needle" to which Jesus referred in the Synoptic story of the Rich Young Man. While this might be possible, see this link for a philological and historical discussion of the expression. All of these remnants support the traditional claim of the Holy Sepulchre to be the site at least of the crucifixion, and the original church complex built by Constantine extended at least this far.
|One of the arched gates of Hadrian's Temple of Venus|
|Some of the original Herodian Wall with the threshold of the Gate of Judgment and a reconstructed arch above it|
|The threshold over which Jesus may have passed on his way to Gologotha|
|Some maintain that the slot to the left of the Gate of Judgment is the "Eye of the Needle"|
|Rachel next to the threshold stone|
|Looking up from the archaeological area towards the chapel of Alexander Nevsky|
|The iconostasis of Alexander Nevsky|
|Betrayal of Judas|
|Delivered to the Romans|
The Citadel "of David," A Sunday in Jerusalem, Christian Jerusalem, Winter 2012, More Bruce and Vivienne in Jerusalem.
|My class in front of the entrance to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre|
|An exposed section of Golgotha|
|More of the rock of Golgotha can be viewed through a window in the Chapel of Adam|
|The traditional Tomb of Jesus under the rotunda|
|Light streams in from the oculus of the Rotunda, a symbol of the resurrection!|
|Rachel standing in the light of the Rotunda|
|It is hard to see, but in the back of this picture, behind the glare of lit candles, are the shafts of two kokhim graves|
Muristan and The Cloister
|The market area of today's Muristan|
|My class in Saint John's Chapel, a Crusader-era refrectory off of the Cloister|
|Some of my students in the Cloister|