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March 27, 2014March 27, 2014  0 comments  Masses

On Easter and the preceding Holy Week, Jerusalem usually fills with visitors from all parts of the world. Pilgrims flock to the Holy City to commemorate the important events from the last days of Christ’s life.


The main celebrations will take place in the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre, built over the place of Jesus’ crucifixion, burial and resurrection. However, other churches and shrines will also hold religious services honoring various happenings from last moments of  Christ’s terrestial life.


This year 2014, according to western and eastern Eucharistic calendars, Easter will be celebrated by both Catholic and Orthodox Christians on 20th of April. Moreover, this time will coincide with Jewish holiday of Passover, which will begin on the evening of 14th of April and end on the evening of the 22nd of April. This cover up of the dates will probably increase the number of visitors to Jerusalem at once, but will also make this time more interesting and meaningful for all.


Holy Light Jerusalem


Travelujah’s tip:


The best way to have an unforgettable spiritual experience in the Holy Land is to commemorate the Easter happenings with the local Christian community. Have a look at the following list of masses and events for that period of the year.


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List of the Holy Masses:




  • Commemoration of the Flagellation of the Lord in the Church of the Flagellation in Jerusalem at 17:00



  • Resurrection of Lazarus, celebrated in Bethany (El-Azariya) at the Tomb of Lazarus at 6:30 with a Holy mass in the
 Church of St. Lazarus at 7:30, that will be followed with a solemn mass and spiritual pilgrimage to the Ascension Shrine on the Mt. of Olives and to the Church of the Pater Noster.



  • Mass at the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre at 16:00



  • Mass for the Fifth Sunday of Lent at the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre at 6:30



  • Commemoration of the Way of the Cross at Lithostrotos (Ecce Homo Convent) at 17:00



  • Friday of Seven Sorrows at the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre at 9:00
  • Solemn mass on Calvary at
17:00 with a daily procession



  • Commemoration of the Entry of Jesus into Jerusalem at the Church of Betfage at 9:00
  • Eve of the Palm Sunday: Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre - 8 am; Solemn mass - 
14:30; Solemn entry of the Latin Patriarch, H.B. Fuad Twal and procession
at 00:40; Vigil in the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament presided by Fr. Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Custod of the Holy Land

13/04/2014 (Palm Sunday)


  • Procession with Palm branches and pontifical mass at the Mary Magdalene Altar in the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre at 7:00
  • Palm Sunday procession on the Mount of Olives at 14:30

14/04/2014 (Holy Monday)


  • Via Dolorosa - V Station - Holy Masses in different languages from 6:00 till 8:00
  • Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre: Holy mass in Arabic on Calvary at 7:00; Solemn mass in the Holy Tomb at 8 am; 
Daily procession at 17:00

15/04/2014 (Holy Tuesday)


  • Solemn mass with singing of the Passion of Christ

at the Church of the Flagellation at 8:00
  • Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre: Solemn mass with singing of the Passion of Christ at 8:00; Daily procession at 17:00

16/04/2014 (Holy Wednesday)


  • Solemn mass with singing of the Passion of Christ
 at Gethsemane in Basilica of the Agony at 8:00
  • Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre: Solemn mass with singing of the Passion of Christ and daily procession at 8 am;
Exposition and veneration of the Column in the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament throuout the day from 10:00;
Tenebrae Service at 16:00

17/04/2014 (Holy Thursday)


  • Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre: Entry of the Latin Patriarch, H.B. Fuad Twal, pontifical mass with the Washing of the Feet and procession with the Blessed Sacramant
Notes at 8:00; Soon after the service (approx. 12:00) the doors of the Basilica will be closed - no exit or entrance; Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and service at 14:45 - The doors open and close shortly afterwards. After the service (approx. 18:00) the Basilica remains closed for the rest of the day.
  • Mount Zion - Last Supper Room: Spiritual pilgrimage to the Cenacle, Washing of the Feet, and to the Churches of St. James and St. Mark
with a departure from St. Savior's Monastery at 15:10;
  • Gethsemane - Basilica of the Agony: Holy Hour presided by Fr. Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Custos of the Holy Land at 21:00 
(Note: 21:30 – 00:00 private prayer in silence)

18/04/2014 (Good Friday)


  • Celebration of the Passion of Christ on Calvary

in Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher at 7:15
  • Procession of the Way of the Cross, starting at 12:15
  • Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre: Service at 16:00; 
"Funeral" Procession at 20:15

19/04/2014 (Holy Saturday)


  • Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre: Easter Vigil at 6:30;
Evening Prayer in front of the Edicule at 18:00;
Pontifical celebration of the Liturgy of the Hoursat the Altar of Mary Magdalene, presided by the Custod of the Holy Land at 23:30

20/04/2014 (Easter Sunday)


  • Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre: Entry of the Latin Patriarch, H.B. Fuad Twal at 10:00;
Pontifical mass and procession at 10:30; Daily Procession at 17:00

21/04/2014 (Easter Monday)


  • Franciscan Shrine of Emmaus - Qubeibeh: Solemn mass presided by Fr. Piebattista Pizzaballa, Custos of the Holy Land at 10:00;
Evening Prayer and Solemn Eucharistic Exposition
at 14:30
  • Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre:
 Solemn mass at 8:00;
Daily procession at 17:00

June 4, 2009June 4, 2009  1 comments  Biblical Archaeology


One of the most well known ancient parables returned to life today about 10 minute east of Jerusalem. the Inn of the good Smaritan adn the new Museuam of the good samaritan opened to the public on the anicent site where, it is said, the famous parable from Luke took place.


The site is one of the very few biblical sites that is open to all inhabitants of Israel and the Palestinian Territories. The new museum is the only mosaic museum in Israel, displaying mosaics and other finds discovered in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip. It houses some of the most fabulous discoveries in the region inlcuding a mosaic floor form a church crypt at Khubet Bureiket. Other significant discoveries on display include a mosaic floor from the Hugurbet Huriye and Khirbet el Latatin. Also an ancient mosaic floor from a synagague in Gaza is on display. One of the most unique displays in the not to be missed back room is an ancient Greek inscription that was discovered in the Martyrius Monastary from the Byzantine period, discovered in Maale Adummim. The mosaic inside this monastary feature the only inscription that mentions Paul, who was , according to Cyril of Scythopolis, the presbytr at the Monastary. Another unique discovery from Khirbet Beit Sila is the Ambo from the Church there. Located on a spur in the middle of Nahal Modi'in northwest of Jerusalem it was occupied in the 2nd Centtury until the 8th Century. The ambo (pulpit) and the religuaries (receptacles) for vestiges of Saints were from the Church discovered there. Ancient wine press and oil presses were also discovered in the same spot.


Central to the motifs in the church mosaics is the parable of the Good Samaritan. from Luke 10:25 - 37 , which reads as follows: 


Behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tested  him saying, "Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?" He said to him, "what is written in the law? How do you read it?" He answered, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself." He said to him, "You have answered correctly. Do this, and you will livve." But he, desiring to justify himself asked Jesus, "who is my neighborh?" Jesus answered, "A certain man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho and he feel among throbbers, who both stripped him and beat him, and departed, leaving him half dead. By chance a certain priest was going down that way. When he saw him, he passed aby on the other side.  In the same way a Levite also, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on theother side.  but a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was.  when he saw him, he was moved with compassion, came to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and winne.  He set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.  On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarrii and gave them to the host, and said to him, "take care of him.  Whatever you spend beyond that, I will repay you when I return."  Now which of thee three do you think seemed to be a neighbor to him who fell among the robbers?" He said, "He who showed mercy on him." then Jesus said to him, "go and do likewise." (Luke 10:25-37)


The site, located on the main road between Jerusalem and Jericho, is identified with the biblical Ma'ale Adumim, which was located at the junction between the lands of the tribes of Benjamin and of Judah (Josh. 15:7; 18:17). In the Byzantine period it was identified with the inn mentioned in the Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37). This parable includes men of three different faiths: Jesus, the founder of Christianity, Jews, and a Samaritan who performs a merciful deed. Accordingly, the museum exhibits mosaics and artifacts from both Jewish and Samaritan synagogues, as well as from churches.



The museum is situated adjacent to the remains of the Inn of the Good Samaritan which includes Second Temple-period remains such as dwelling caves, cisterns from different periods, and the reconstructed Good Samaritan Byzantine church. These remains serve to underline the importance of the site for Christians through the ages.


"The importance of this site, which is open to both Israelis and Palestinians cannot be overstated. Said Speaker Rueven Rivlin, who attended the ceremony, "I believe everyone should be able to visit (this site). " The site's symbolism was not lost on the Knesset speaker who added, " You can't just leave people. Is opening this politics? It is not."


In fact the site was identified almost 40 years ago said Rivlin and approximately 10 years ago the Tourism Ministry began planning for its redevelopment. One noted archaeological scholar, Itzik Magen, spent the last 9 years researching and overseeing every aspect of the redevelopment and presented the historical photographs to onlookers including the Latin Patriarche and many other leaders from the local Christian community who attended the opening. 



The site was developed and restored by the Civil Administration's Staff Officer of Archeology and Antiquities and the Israel Antiquities Authority, financed by the Tourism Ministry with a total investment of 10 million shekel.

The site is conveniently situated on the ancient travel route used routeby pilgrims going from Jerusalem to Jericho and north to the Galilee. Nearby sites of interest include the baptism site of Qasr el Yahud on the Jordan river which is in the final stages of a major renovation program, and the archeological site of Qumran.

Travelujah.com is an Israel based company featuring information on all sorts of sites, a vibrant social network and travel services. Travelujah is the only Christian social network focused on travel to the Holy Land.

March 15, 2009March 15, 2009  1 comments  Jesus

Gospel parables are probably the most widely identifiable teaching form of Jesus. However, readers seldom recognize Jesus' sophisticated skill as a first-century Jewish parabolist. Indeed, many Christians are unaware that his use of story parables is one of the strongest links between Jesus and contemporary Jewish piety. His parables also demonstrate that Jesus taught in Hebrew.

While Christian scholars in this century have written volumes attempting to reconstruct Jesus' parables in Aramaic, they have largely overlooked the simple fact that there exists no story parables in Aramaic, Greek or Latin. All are in Hebrew! In stark contrast to the dearth of story parables in these languages, literally thousands of Hebrew parables are preserved in Rabbinic literature.

In this study of The Parable of the Sower (Luke 8:4-8) we want to look closely, not only at the message of Jesus' parable, but how he told it, with particular attention to its Hebraic elements and its Jewish background. Let me encourage the reader, while we course our way towards the eventual destination of understanding what Jesus meant to say to his hearers, to enjoy the journey of discovering how Jesus communicated that message. My hope is that you not only hear and understand more clearly the words of Jesus, but that you appreciate more fully what a masterful teacher he was.

Like other Rabbinic parables, our story reflects the physical and social realities of the local setting. Ours is a farming parable, and it assumes that we already know how people living in the eastern Mediterranean planted crops. The relatively haphazard style of broadcasting seed prepares the reader for the "four-fold" outcome of the sowing. While in this instance, most of us can imagine the setting, sometimes the essential background is unfamiliar to us. Unlike the original hearers of the parables, we are separated by time, land, culture and language.

In "The Man Who Would Be King,"   we noted that Jesus' parable of the man who went away to receive a kingdom (Luke 19:11-27) assumed that we knew the story of Herod's son, Archelaus, who went to Rome to inherit his father's kingdom (Josephus Flavius, Jewish War 2:34). On other occasions, Jesus seems to reshape existing parables to serve his own purposes. The Gospel writers assume that we recognize those changes, and sometimes the key to understanding Jesus' aim lies in knowing how he has changed the familiar parable.

While adaptation of existing parables is common in Rabbinic Judaism, Christian students are surprised to observe how closely Jesus' parable of The House Built upon the Rock (Matt 7:24-27; Luke 6:47-49) resembles an ancient similitude in Avot de-Rabbi Natan (Version A, chap. 24; Goldin, p. 103). Not only is the metaphor of building a house on a firm foundation employed in both, but the very aim of the parables is similar. They emphasize the need for action and obedience!

Undergirding both parables is the ancient debate about the relative importance of hearing God's word (i.e., study of the Torah) and doing it. Recurring in the discussion is mention of the unusual Hebrew word order in Exodus 24:7, "All that the LORD has spoken we will do, and we will hear." The Sages asked, how is it possible to "do" before we "hear"? This question epitomized the divergence in opinion about which was more important, to study God's word or to do it. Jesus represents the opinion of those who put strong emphasis on action - without, of course, neglecting the importance of studying the Scriptures. Remember his warning about the example of some Pharisees: "Do what they say, but not what they (don't) do!" (Matt 23:2).

In fact, this same emphasis lies at the heart of the Parable of the Sower. The four types of soil represent the four types of "hearers." Even the literary structure of four types of soil represents classical Jewish teaching style. If a sage intends to describe various "types," then typically there will be four. In Mishnah, Avot 5, we read several lists of "four types." Jesus' parable follows this pattern by providing four types of hearers (Luke 8:11-15). Our assumption that the aim of the parable is to encourage the listeners to be "good hearers" (i.e., ones who hear the word of God and do it!) is strengthened by Mark's command in the opening to the parable: "Listen!" (Mark 4:3).

The Lukan parable is marked by Hebraisms in its Greek. It begins (Luke 8:5) with the repetitive narrative prose: (literally) "the one who sows seeds seeded his seed." To understand this Hebraic style, it is important to know that Hebrew words are built from three-letter stems. These stems form the basis for creating related nouns, verbs and adjectives. For example, the three-letter stem for "book" (SePHeR) is "S-PH-R." Built from this same stem one finds the words for "story" ( SiPuR), "scribe" (SoPHeR) and "to tell" (SiPeR). Hebraic narrative style enjoys stringing these related words (cognates) together in sentences. It is this kind of identifiable Hebraism in Luke's parable that attracts the attention of scholars in Jerusalem, who are interested in the Hebraic undercurrents to the Synoptic Gospels. While our canonical Gospels are Greek, they often exhibit primitive Hebraic tendencies. Other Hebraisms that can be observed in Luke's version of the parable are "the birds of the air" (Luke 8:5; see Gen 1:30; 2:19; cf. Matt/Mark's "birds"); "on the rock" (Luke 8:6; cf. Matt/Mark's "on rocky ground"); "make [yield] fruit" (Luke 8:8; see Gen 1:11, 12:2; 2 Kgs 19:30; cf. Matt/Mark's "give fruit").

The physical imagery of the four-fold outcome of the sown seed suggests the manner of terraced farming in the hill country. On the slopes of the hill, the farmer gathers the stones from the field and uses them to construct retaining walls. This has the combined advantage of removing the stones from the field and preventing soil erosion. Paths through these fields are usually alongside the retaining walls. It also is along the margins that the thistles flourish and choke out other vegetation. According to the parable, seeds fall on the footpath where they are trampled and eaten by the birds of the air. Some drop on the rocks. Others fall among the thistles. All of the seeds that fail have fallen in the margins of the field. While one must be careful not to allegorize a parable, the message to be a "good hearer" is reinforced by the agricultural imagery: "Don't be marginal. Be committed and obedient."

A final Hebraism may be present in the description of the seed that fell into good soil. It yielded a "hundredfold." The language and setting echo another "hundredfold crop" sown by the patriarch, Isaac: "And Isaac sowed in that land, and reaped in the same year a hundredfold. The Lord blessed him, and the man became rich, and gained more and more until he became very wealthy" (Gen 26:12-13).

The Sages discuss in ancient commentaries the significance of Isaac's blessing from the Lord and his "bumper crop." One interesting interpretation suggested that Isaac knew the promise, "And I will bless you and multiply your seed for my servant Abraham's sake" (Gen 26:12). Nevertheless, "Isaac expounded [this blessing] and said, 'Since a blessing is earned only through one's actions...,' he arose and sowed" (Tosefta, Berachot 6:8). Thus, Isaac's blessing resulted from his obedience to act upon God's promise.

The parable concludes with Jesus' charge, "The one who has ears to hear, let him hear." Most readers pass over these words as if they were just an archaic way to say, "pay attention." However, in the context of the parable they have a more profound significance for the listener. They serve as the exclamation point, the final challenge to those who heard Jesus' parable: "Be good hearers! Be those who hear the word of God and act upon it. Then, like Isaac, you will be blessed, and you will see the hundredfold fruit of your obedience."

Articles published by Jerusalem Perspective Online express the views of their authors, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Jerusalem Perspective Online, David Bivin or other members of the Jerusalem School of Synoptic Research.

Reprinted with permission from the Jerusalem Perspective.


March 8, 2013March 8, 2013  0 comments  Jesus

Just before his abdication, Benedict XVI approved the second in the history television exposure of the Shroud of Turin, which according to the tradition, is the piece of cloth the body of Christ was wrapped after his crucifixion.


Burial Shroud of Jesus


The Bible mentions Christ’s body to be wrapped in a linen cloth by Joseph of Aramea, before being entombed. “So Joseph bought some linen cloth, took down the body, wrapped it in the linen, and placed it in a tomb cut out of rock. Then he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb.” (Mark 15:46)


Could be the Shroud of Turin be the same piece of material Jesus was covered with?


Shroud of Turin


Wikipedia - Full-length image of the Turin Shroud before the restoration in 2002.


The Pope John Paul II spoke about it: “The shroud is a challenge for a mind. It primarily demands, from every person and especially from a scholar, an effort which could let him humbly accept the profound message, which shall appeal to his mind and affect his life.”


The shroud features multiple stains, which have been said to include also blood. The marks, could correspond to the biblical description of the wounds inflicted to Jesus on the day of his crucifixion. There can be seen small points around the head, which might be the marks left after the thorn crown. As well as, large wounds on wrists and feet, which are claimed to be those left after piercing.


When in 1898, Secondo Pia, and amateur photographer from Italy, was allowed to photography the shroud, he was astonished by the its negative image in his darkroom, which actually gave a reflection of that what could be seen as the positive image of Christ’s body.


Shroud of Turin

Wikipedia - The Shroud of Turin: modern photo of the face, positive left, negative right.



History of the Shroud of Turin


There are no historical records that would speak exactly about the Shroud of Turin itself prior to the 14th century. However, there are some documents that describe veneration of multiple linens featuring images of Christ’s head before that time. A burial shroud, which some scholars associate with the one of Turin, was owned by the Byzantine Emperors, but was lost in 1204, during the Sack of Constantinople.


The fate of the shroud has been well recorded since the 15th century. In 1532, the cloth was a bit damaged by a molten silver from the reliquary during a fire in a chapel of Chambery in Savoy region. In 1578 Emmanuel Philibert, Duke of Savoy ordered the linen to be transferred from Chambery to Turin, where it remains till these days. It was given to the Holy See in in 1983.


The TV Exhibition


Formally, the Pope is the owner of the cloth. However, it is kept in the royal chapel of the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist in Turin, northern Italy. The chapel was built in 17th century, especially for the purpose of displaying the shroud.


For the first time the Shroud of Turin was shown on the television on 23rd of July 1973. Soon, viewers from all around the world will be able to see it in HD (high-definition video resolution), on Easter Saturday 30 March 2013.


The selection of the date is closely connected with the person of Benedict XVI and reminds us of the day, when Pope saw the Shroud on the public exposition on the 2nd of May 2010 and described it as the “icon of the Holy Saturday.”


“Thanks to media the shroud will reach to places and people until now unawailable” – said Archbishop of Turin Cesare Nosiglia, who revealed the initiative to the media. He also added that this is the last gift of the current Pope to the faithful and the example of subsequent opening of the Church on the latest technologies.


Archbishop Nosiglia will lead the liturgical celebration in the cathedral of in the capital of Piedmont on the occasion of the presentation of the linen through the cameras of the Italian public television RAI.


What’s more, the shroud will be on display as well thanks to a special application for smartphones, which will be free in the basic version.


Learn more:

Notre Dame Center in Jerusalem houses an ongoing exhibit entitled "The Exhibition of the Shroud of Turin". Visits are free but do need to be made by prior arrangement. Contact Notre Dame Center at +972(2)6271995.

Visit a webiste completely devoted to the Shroud of Turin: http://www.shroud.com/


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Beata Andonia works for the Bethlehem tourist bureau and blogs regularly about Bethlehem for Travelujah-Holy Land Tours. She is originally from Poland and moved to Bethlehem in 2010.


March 25, 2013March 25, 2013  0 comments  Historical Sites

“The Teacher asks: Where is my guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples? - He will show you a large room upstairs, furnished and ready.” (Mark 14:14-15)


The Biblical Cenacle is the “large upper room furnished and prepared” that hosted the scene of the Last Supper, which was the Passover meal Jesus and his disciples ate together before Christ’s capture in Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives.


The Gospels do not mention the exact location of the Cenacle. However, the tradition which dates to the times of early Christianity, spots the place on the Mount Zion just outside of the Zion Gate. At the time of Christ, the area was supposed to be a part of the proper city of Jerusalem.


The place of the Upper Room became associated not only with the site of Lord’s Last Supper and the institution of Eucharist, but as well with the events of Apparition of the Risen Christ and the Descent of the Holy Spirit.


History of the Cenacle:


Cenacle Travelujah The interior of the Cenacle



The foundations of the church of the Cenacle date back at least to the 3rd century A.D. or maybe even earlier, thus many scholars associate it with the ‘little church of God’ mentioned in the writings of Epiphanus of Salamis (310 - 403), which he based on documents from the 2nd century.


Epiphanus wrote: “Hadrian… [135 A.D.] found the city entirely raised to the ground and the Temple of God destroyed and tramped upon, with the exception of some houses and a certain small church of the Christians, which had been constructed in that place, in which the disciples, after the Saviour was taken up to heaven from Mount Oliviet, betaking themselves, mounted to the Cenacle.”


Cenacle Travelujah A group of pilgrims visiting the site



The church was reconstructed in 4th century by St. Maximus and was first known as the ‘Upper Church of the Appostles’, and then in the 5th century it was transformed into a great basilica by the Archbishop John and named ‘Sion, Mother of all the Churches’.


In 415, relics of the Protomartyr St. Stephen were taken to Sion from Cafargamala and remained there until the Empress Euxodia had finished in 460 the basilica to the north of Jerusalem, especially built to receive them.


The ‘Mother of all the Churches’, as most of the other Christian edifices in the area, was razed to the ground by the Persians in 614, however soon after it was restored by the Patriarch Modestus.


The Christians took the words that St. Peter said on the day of Descent of the Holy Spirit: “He [King David] died and was buried, and his grave is here with us to this very day” for the indication of a presence of his David’s sepulchre in the proximity of the Upper Room. Thus with time a tradition, also strengthened by the previous placement of St. Stephen’s tomb in one of the chapels, stated that the King David’s burial was around.


The Crusaders built there a three nave edifice and named it ‘St. Mary’s of Mount Sion’. During their rule, none of the pilgrims to the Holy Land mentioned in their writings the presence of King David’s tomb there, however under the power of Saladin, who captured Jerusalem in 1187, its legend revived. The Franciscan friars, who took over the possession of the Cenacle in 1336, kept the tradition as well.


Cenacle Travelujah Islamic decorations



In the 14th century, the complex was designated as having two floors, with each shared on two sections. One of the rooms on the lower floor, which with time was taken by Muslims, contained the tombs of David and Solomon. On the upper floor was the place of the Last Supper as well as the Chapel of the Holy Ghost, which was actually restored only in the middle of the 15th century.


In 1429, Jews bought the Chapel of David, which was not immediately transformed into a synagogue, but yet stayed in the Muslim possession. The chapel was however returned to the Franciscans in the very next year.


Cenacle Travelujah A Jewish woman praying next to the shrine of King David’s tomb



In couple of the following years, the monastery was destroyed and the friars received a very had time. Later, some of the edifice’s chapels were being passed back and forth from the hands of the Franciscans to the Muslims, who kept the tradition about Prophet David’s tomb being placed there. In 1928, also the Upper Room was turned into a mosque and a mihrab was erected there.


Since 1948 the Cenacle room is open to the visitors. However, the Franciscans are permitted to have there a mass only twice a year: on the day of Pentecost and on the Holy Thursday. Christian pilgrim groups usually have there a short silent prayer when visiting.


The former Chapel of David is now a Jewish shrine of the King David’s Tomb. A statue of the king decorates the entrance. The room is divided into two sections for prayer: one for men on the right and one for women on the left.


If you go:


Cenacle Travelujah The sign pointing the direction to ‘Coenaculum’



The Upper Room is located just outside of the Sion Gate of Jerusalem’s Old City. After exiting through the gate, you will see a gray door of a Franciscan Convet and on its side there will be a sign ‘Coenaculum’ directing you to the right. When turning, in front of your eyes will show up the magnificent Dormition Abbey church. Follow along church’s wall to the left until you will see a statue of King David. In front of the statue are the door you shall enter and take stairs up.


The shrine of King David’s Tomb is located on the lower floor of the same building.


Opening Hours: Summer (April – September) 8:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. 3:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. Winter (October – March) 8:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. 3:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.


Tel.:  02 671-3597

Holy Thursday in the Cenacle:


On the Holy Thursday, the 28th of March 2013, there will be celebrated a Pilgrimage to the Cenactle and to the churches of St. James and St. Mark. (Departure from St. Saviour’s Church at 3:10 pm). For the detailed schedule of Catholic celebrations in the Holy Week and Easter 2013 check: here.


Did you know?


Did you know that another tradition locates the Upper Room of the Last Supper in the Syriac Orthodox church of St. Mark? The monastery is located in the heart of Jerusalem’s Old City in the Armenian Quarter on the junction of Ararat and St. Mark streets.


Opening Hours: Summer (April – September) 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Winter (October – March) 7:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. ; Sundays 11:00 a.m. – 4 p.m.


Tel.:  02 628-3304 or 052 509-0478


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Beata Andonia works for the Bethlehem tourist bureau and blogs regularly about Bethlehem for Travelujah-Holy Land Tours. She is originally from Poland and moved to Bethlehem in 2010.


March 25, 2013March 25, 2013  0 comments  Historical Sites

“They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Sit here while I pray.’” (Mark 14:23)


It was in the Garden of Gethsemane on the foot of the Mount of Olives where Jesus was pointed out by Judas Iscariot to be arrested by the Roman soldiers and the Temple guards, who were sent by the chief priests and the teachers of the Law. Christ knew that his hour was near, so he decided to speak to God the Father. In his prayer he hoped that he would not need to suffer much, however he agreed to all God’s will. Father, everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” (Mark 14:36)


Gethsemane Travelujah


It is believed that the garden of Gethsemane belonged to one of Jesus’ followers, since it was a place where he often preached. “Now Judas, who betrayed him, knew the place, because Jesus had often met there with his disciples.” (John 18:2) In Hebrew, Gethsemane was called gat shemanim, which means oli press or oil storage.


The Basilica of the Agony


Gethsemane Travelujah 


Today, when entering the yard in front of the entrance to the Basilica of the Agony, we can notice couple of very old olive trees. Their ancient look create a feeling that they might have been the silent witnesses to Christ’s contemplation with God, followed by his capture and suffering.


On that place, after Christianity became an official religion of the Roman Empire, a basilica was built in the 4th century. However, because the church was built in the Valley of Kidron, outside of the walls of Jerusalem, it was one of the first Christian constructions destroyed by Persians in 614.


In the times of Crusaders, stood there a church built by the local Christians, which was later enlarged and named St. Saviour. The monastery was unfortunately destroyed, so the mass services had to be held in the nearby Grotto of Gethsemane.


Present Basilica of the Agony, was committed to the famous Italian architect A. Barluzz by the Custody of the Holy Land. The basilica is also commonly called Church of All Nations, since many countries contributed its construction, which has begun in 1919. The sanctuary was consecrated in 1924. Inside the church can be seen remains of a floor mosaic of the Byzantine construction, and to the right of the sanctuary are visible the ruins of the Church of St. Saviour of the 12th century.


The Grotto of Gethsemane


Gethsemane Travelujah


Nearby Grotto of Gethsemane is considered to be the place of Christ’s often meetings with the disciples, and as well the one on the evening of his arrest. The interior of the cave is covered with the 12th century wall paintings, which now are almost effaced. The remains of the mosaic which used to decorate its floor can be also seen.


The grotto became a Franciscan property in 1392. In the years between 1956 and 1959, it underwent multiple restorations and at that time three altars were erected.


Gethsemane Travelujah


Holy Thursday in the Garden of Gethsemane


On the Holy Thursday, the 28th of March 2013, the door of the Basilica of the Agony will be open at 9 pm for Holy Hour of prayer. From 10 pm till midnight there will be time for private prayers in silence. For the detailed schedule of Catholic celebrations in the Holy Week and Easter 2013 check: here.


If you go:


Opening Hours:


Gethsemane Basilica: Summer (April – September) 8:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. 2:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. Winter (October – March) 8:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. 2:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.


6 a.m. - Mass in Italian language is held everyday in the Basilica of Agony

4 p.m. – On every Thursday, except the 1st Thursday of the month, there is a mass in Latin and Italian languages, which is followed by half an hour adoration. On the 1st Thursday of the month there is celebrated a Holy Hour.


Tel: 628 3264


Gethsemane Grotto: All year long 8:30 a.m. – 12:00 a.m. 2:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. Note: Sunday and Thursday till 3:40p.m.


Tel: 628 3264



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Beata Andonia works for the Bethlehem tourist bureau and blogs regularly about Bethlehem for Travelujah-Holy Land Tours. She is originally from Poland and moved to Bethlehem in 2010.



March 19, 2013March 19, 2013  0 comments  Religious ceremonies


“This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit.” (Matt. 1:18)


The news about Mary’s pregnancy made Joseph very upset. However, as a man of honor and faithful to the law, he decided to divorce her quietly to avoid a scandal. Then suddenly, during his sleep, angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph and encouraged him to take Mary as his wife. The child she was bearing was conceived through the Holy Spirit.


Since that day, Joseph always accompanied Mary as a husband and after Jesus’ birth he became his guardian and terrestrial father. Joseph spent a lot of time with the young Jesus and taught him the profession of handicraft and carpentry. The boy probably followed Joseph to many places of his work.


Joseph was from Bethlehem and he belonged to the house of David. “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife”. (Matt. 1:20) Since Joseph, was not the genetic father of Jesus, we can come to the thought that Mary was from the Davidic origin as well. We can spot that when reading angel’s message which he revealed on the Day of Annunciation: “The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David.” (Luke 1:32) Thus we can deduct that Mary and Joseph’s families might have been related to each other.


Statue of Virgin Mary Nazareth Travelujah


The gospels indicate that after Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem, the Holy Family spent some months in the town before escaping from King Herod’s soldiers to Egypt. “Take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt” (Matt. 2:13) The Chapel of St. Joseph, located inside of the Nativity Church, commemorates the place where the angel appeared to Joseph and commanded him to flee to Egypt. According to another local tradition, the family stayed in the place currently called Milk Grotto, which might have been on the land that belonged to Joseph’s ancestors from Bethlehem.


After the death of Herod the Great, who ruled Judea from Jerusalem, the angel again appeared to Joseph and let him know that the time of their return has come. Joseph, however, after hearing that Herod Archelaus took over the rule in Judea, decided to take his family to Nazareth in the Galilee.


At the time of the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry, the gospels do not mention Joseph anymore. This leads us to the assumption that Christ’s earthy guardian probably already passed away by that time.


Feasts of St. Joseph


In the tradition of the Catholic Church, the 19th of March is the day dedicated to St. Joseph, the spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The feast has been observed since the 10th century, however Pope St. Pius V established the holiday as a church custom in 1479. The holiday honors Joseph as the man who was privileged to become the spouse of the Mother of God and the foster-father of Jesus Christ. Additionally, Joseph is the patron of the Universal Church.


Church of St. Joseph in Nazareth


According to tradition, the Church of St. Joseph in Nazareth is located over Joseph’s carpentry workshop. The monastery stands next to the famous Church of the Annunciation and is often included within a pilgrim’s itinerary.


St. Joseph Church Nazareth Travelujah


The Church of St. Joseph in Nazareth was built in 1914 on the ruins of the Crusader church and over multiple caves. Three paintings on the monastery’s apse depict the Holy Family, The Dream of Joseph and The Death of Joseph in the Arms of Jesus and Mary. Joseph is believed to die in Nazareth.


In the crypt under the church is a pit, which is believed to be a baptistery dating to the 1st century A.D.


If you go: The church of St. Joseph in Nazareth is open daily from 7 am till 6 pm. From Monday till Saturday there is a mass at 7:15 am in Arabic and on every Wednesday at 6:30 am in Italian. The Sunday mass (in Arabic) is celebrated in the Church of St. Joseph at 8:30 am. When this article was written, the monastery was under renovation. Please check Catholic Parish of Nazareth’s website for updates: www.basilicanazareth.org. In its proximity is the Basilica of the Annunciation open from 8 am till 6 pm and the Archaeological Museum open from 8 am – 12 am and 2 pm – 6 pm (5 pm winter).


Church of St. Joseph in Bethlehem


St. Joseph Church Bethlehem Travelujah


The small Syriac Catholic Church of St. Joseph is located on Manger Street in Bethlehem. Its construction began in 1925 and the building was consecrated in 1930. The church serves the local Syriac Catholic community of Bethlehem. They are the descendants of the ethnic group of Assyrians that came from the Syrian desert in the 14th century B.C.


In both Orthodox and Catholic Syriac churches, the liturgy is in Aramaic, the language of Jesus Christ. Aramaic is the spoken language only, the written form is called Syriac.


Feast of the St. Joseph: The community celebrates the feast of their church’s patron St. Joseph on Sunday the 17th of March at 4 pm.


If you go: The Sunday mass is celebrated in the Church of St. Joseph at 8:30 am. Since some period of time, the chapel is rarely open on the week days. If lucky, the person who keeps the keys would be around and when asked he would open it for the visitors. It is better to arrange a visit by contacting Fr. Frais at yacoob1991@hotmail.com or calling at 00972 (0) 50 295 94 18. To learn more about the Syriac Catholic Church in the Holy Land visit their website: www.syriaccatholic.org


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Beata Andonia works for the Bethlehem tourist bureau and blogs regularly about Bethlehem for Travelujah-Holy Land Tours. She is originally from Poland and moved to Bethlehem in 2010.



March 19, 2013March 19, 2013  0 comments  Religious ceremonies


“A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road.” (Matthew 21:8)


In the 33 AD, almost 2000 years ago, on a Sunday preceding the Feast of Passover, Jesus humbly entered Jerusalem on a back of a donkey and was ceremonially welcomed by many of the Jewish pilgrims who gathered in the town to celebrate the holiday.


The Jews knew him as a great preacher and miracle maker. Thus, greeted him with the words “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” (Psalm 118:26) and spread on the road in front of him their clothes and tree branches. They took him, however, as their possible political leader, who could free them from the Roman rule, not as the Messiah, whose Kingdom is in Heaven.


Jerusalem view from Mount of Olives


The Christian Feast of Palm Sunday solemnizes Jesus’s glorious entry to Jerusalem almost 2000 years ago and marks the beginning of the Holy Week, which commemorates the events which happened before Christ’s death and resurrection.


Join the Celebration


In the Holy Town of Jerusalem, where it all happened, Catholics annually celebrate the Palm Sunday procession to commemorate the great events of the past. Also this year 2013, on Sunday of the 24th of March, the joyful and colorful gathering will follow the way from Bethphage on the Mount of Olives to Saint Anne’s church on the Via Dolorosa. The march will start at 2:30 pm from in front of the Franciscan Church of Bethphage, located in the village where Jesus took the donkey to ride on it into Jerusalem.


Palm Sunday Travelujah


The Palm Sunday procession, during which people cary palm or olive tree branches, is commonly known for its full of singing and blessings joyous atmosphere. The rhythmical music of the local scouts usually accompanies the event.


This is an amazing spiritual and cultural experience for all the gathered to follow exactly the way Christ took to enter Jerusalem and meet the fellows in faith from all around the world.


The destination of the march, through the part of Via Dolorosa, is the Church of Saint Anne.


Palm Sunday Travelujah


Other Catholic mass services in Jerusalem on Palm Sunday 2013:



  • 6:30 am – Jerusalem – Holy Sepulchre: Procession with Palms and Pontifical Mass at Chapel of St. Mary Magdalene
  • 2:30 pm – Bethphage – Palm Sunday procession over Mt. of Olives to St. Anne’s Church
  • 4 pm – Jerusalem - Holy Sepulchre: Daily Procession



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Beata Andonia works for the Bethlehem tourist bureau and blogs regularly about Bethlehem for Travelujah-Holy Land Tours. She is originally from Poland and moved to Bethlehem in 2010.



March 17, 2013March 17, 2013  1 comments  Easter


“In two days, as you know, it will be the Passover Festival, and the Son of Man, will be handed over to be crucified.” (Matt. 26:2)


Those are the words Jesus said to his disciples two days before he was captured and sentenced to death. At the same time, chief priests and elders, who were against Jesus, were making plans how and when to arrest him.


Jesus Is Anointed at Bethany


Bethany Travelujah


Jesus was then anointed in Bethany, at the house of Simon. While he was eating, a woman came and broke a jar containing a very expensive perfume made of the pure nard, which she poured on his head. Christ’s disciples did not understand why she would ‘waste’, as they thought, such a valuable thing. However, Jesus excused her and said that she prepared him for the upcoming burial.


To commemorate this event, Franciscan brothers make an annual pilgrimage to Bethany (El-Azariya). This year 2013, they gathered on Thursday 14th of March, first at the Tomb of Lazarus and later in the church. The celebration was followed by the spiritual pilgrimage to Pater Noster Church and the Chapel of Ascension.


Holy Thursday - The Last Supper and Arrest of Jesus


Getsemane Travelujah


On the first day of Passover, the disciples asked Jesus, where they should eat their meal. So He ordered that they say these words to a ‘certain man’: “The Teacher says, My hour has come; my disciples and I will celebrate the Passover at your house.” (Matt 26:18).


Already at the supper, suddenly, Jesus rose from the table and started to wash and dry disciple’s feet. When he approached Simon Peter, the disciple wanted to refuse: “Are you going to wash my feet Lord?” (John 13:6) Jesus wanted to teach his followers that all the people are equal and that no one is better than another: “I am telling you the truth: no slave is greater than his master, and no messenger is greater than the one who sent him.” (John 13:16)


Again at the table, Christ said to his twelve disciples: “I tell you, one of you will betray me.” (Matt 26:21) After hearing those words, all of the apostles became very upset. Jesus surely knew that one of his disciples - Judas Iscariot, went to the high priests and agreed with them on a prize of the thirty silver coins for betraying his teacher.


While they were eating, Jesus took a piece of bread and asked the gathered to eat it as it was his body, and he took a cup of wine and told them to drink from it as it was his blood. At that moment, Christ revealed that he is going to die for the forgiveness of sins of all his followers.


Cenacle Travelujah


After the meal, Jesus and his disciples went to the Mount of Olives to Gethsemane. He wanted to pray on the mount, he took with him only Peter and two sons of Zebedee: James and John, so they could guard the place while he was praying. However, the apostles fell asleep. Suddenly Judas arrived with the soldiers behind him. He kissed his teacher, and pointed out who should be captured. Christ let the people arrest him to fulfill the prophecies written in the Scriptures.


Holy Thursday (28th of March 2013) solemnizes the events described above.  At 7 a Pontifical Mass of Washing of the Feet will be celebrated in the Holy Sepulchre. At 3:10pm in the afternoon, there will be a pilgrimage beginning from St. Saviour’s church to the Cenacle and to the churches of St. James and St. Mark. There will also be a mass in the Basilica of Agony in Gethsemane at 9 pm, followed with time for private prayers from 10 pm.


Good Friday – Passion of the Lord


Jesus was taken to the house of the High Priest Caiaphas, where all the teachers of Law and elders gathered. “The chief priests and the whole Council tried to find some false evidence against Jesus to put him to death.” (Matt. 26:59). Christ, when asked if he is the Messiah, admitted but the gathered people did not believe him and accused him for blasphemy.


In the morning, the priests handed Jesus over to Pilate, the Roman governor, who tried to inquire if the one he received was the “King of the Jews”.


There was a tradition that at every Passover Festival a Roman governor would free a Jewish prisoner selected by the crowd. The people had a choice between two prisoners: “Which one do you want me to set free for you? Jesus Barrabas or Jesus called the Messiah?” (Matt. 27:16) Barrabas was one of the well-known criminals, but neverthe;ess the crowd wanted him to be freed.


Even though, Pilate saw Jesus the innocent, he could not go against the people’s wish. “I am not responsible for the death of this man. This is your doing!” (Matt. 27:24) They wanted Jesus to be crucified.


At the governor’s palace, Pilate’s soldiers took off Christ’s garments and put on Him a scarlet robe and a crown made of the thorny branches, which hurt him. After making fun of him, they dressed him in his own clothes and led him towards his crucifixion at Golgotha (Place of the Skull).


Via Dolorosa Travelujah


Jesus died on a cross, after screaming “My God, my God, why did you abandon me?” Many strange things happened on the day of his death. There was an earthquake and it was completely dark in the middle of the day. “Then the curtain hanging in the Temple was torn in two from top to bottom.” (Matt 27:51) All this made many people believe that he really was the Son of God.


Good Friday (29th of March 2013) is marked by various celebrations held in the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre. The Way of the Cross will be followed at 11:30 am from the First Station to the Golgotha. The “Funeral” procession will take place after midnight.


Easter Sunday – The Resurrection


There was a prophecy that Jesus would rise from death on the third day after His death. The chief priests knew this and therefore they ordered his tomb to be well guarded to prevent the disciples from stealing Christ’s body.


On the Sunday morning after the Sabbath, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary, went to see the tomb. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord came from heaven to roll away the stone blocking the tomb. The guards were so afraid that they could not move. The angel spoke to the women: “He is not there; he has been raised, just as he said.”


Calendar of the Holy Week and Easter Celebrations:


Palm Sunday – 24th of March


  • 6:30 am – Jerusalem – Holy Sepulchre: Procession with Palms and Pontifical Mass at Chapel of St. Mary Magdalene
  • 2:30 pm – Bethphage – Palm Sunday procession over Mt. of Olives to St. Anne’s Church
  • 4 pm – Jerusalem - Holy Sepulchre: Daily Procession


Monday of Holy Week – 25th of March


  • 6 am – Jerusalem –  5th Station: Masses until 8 am
  • 6 am – Jerusalem – Holy Sepulchre (Calvary): Parish Mass (in Arabic)
  • 7 am – Jerusalem – Holy Sepulchre: Daily Solemn Mass
  • 4 pm – Jerusalem – Holy Sepulchre: Daily Procession


Tuesday of Holy Week – 26th of March


  • 7 am – Jerusalem –  Holy Sepulchre: Solemn Mass with signing of the Passion
  • 7:30 am – Jerusalem –  Flagellation: Solemn Mass with signing of the Passion
  • 4 pm – Jerusalem – Holy Sepulchre: Daily Procession


Wednesday of Holy Week – 27th of March


  • 7 am – Jerusalem –  Holy Sepulchre: Solemn Mass with signing of the Passion and daily procession
  • 7 am – Jerusalem – Gethsemane (Basilica of the Agony): Solemn Mass with signing of the Passion
  • 9 am – Jerusalem –  Holy Sepulchre: Veneration of the Flagellation Colum throughout the day in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel
  • 3 pm – Jerusalem –  Holy Sepulchre: Tabernacle Service


Holy Thursday – 28th of March


  • 7 am – Jerusalem –  Holy Sepulchre: Pontifical Mass (Washing of the Feet). Procession of the Blessed Sacrament.
  • 1: 45 pm – Jerusalem –  Holy Sepulchre: Notes: Basilica doors open, and close shortly afterwards. Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. Service. Notes: Exit after the Service (5 pm). The basilica remains closed for the rest of the day.
  • 3:30 pm – Jerusalem –  Mount Sion: Pilgrimage to the Cenactle and to the churches of St. James and St. Mark (Departure from St. Saviour’s at 3:10 pm)
  • 9 pm – Jerusalem –  Gethsemane: Holy Hour in the Basilica of Agony (No Photographs) Notes: 10pm – midnight: private prayers in silence


Holy Friday – 29th of March


  • 8 am – Jerusalem –  Holy Sepulchre: Notes: Basilica doors open only for celebration, not for visits), and close shortly afterwards.
  • 8:15 am – Jerusalem – Calvary: Celebration of the Passion of the Lord
  • 11:30 am – Jerusalem – Via Dolorosa: Way of the Cross. Starting from the First Station with the Franciscan Friairs, followed by various groups.
  • 6 pm – Jerusalem –  Holy Sepulchre: Service
  • 00:30 am – Jerusalem –  Holy Sepulchre: “Funeral” Procession


Holy Saturday – 30th of March


  • 7:30 am – Jerusalem –  Holy Sepulchre: Easter Vigil
  • 3:15 pm – Jerusalem –  Holy Sepulchre: Entrance and Solemn Procession
  • 6 pm – Jerusalem –  Holy Sepulchre: Evening Prayer in front of the Edicule
  • 00:30 am – Jerusalem –  Holy Sepulchre: Pontifical Celebration of the Liturgy of the Hours in front of the Edicule, with the Custos of the Holy Land officiating


Easter Sunday – 31st of March


  • 6:30am SonRise service -Garden Tomb
  • 9:30 am – Jerusalem –  Holy Sepulchre: Entrance of the Latin Patriarch
  • 9:45 am – Jerusalem –  Holy Sepulchre: Pontifical Mass and Solemn Procession
  • 1200 Resurrection service in Korean broadcast on short wave radio to 2000+ Korean churches planted in the Far East
  • 5 pm – Jerusalem –  Holy Sepulchre: Daily Procession


Easter Monday– 1st of April


  • 8:30 am – Jerusalem –  Holy Sepulchre: Daily Solemn Mass
  • 10 am – Emmaus (Qubeibeh) – Pontifical Mass and Blessing of bread by the Custos of the Holy Land
  • 2: 30 pm – Emmaus (Qubeibeh) – Solemn Eucharistic Exposition
  • 5 pm – Jerusalem –  Holy Sepulchre: Daily Procession


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Beata Andonia works for the Bethlehem tourist bureau and blogs regularly about Bethlehem for Travelujah-Holy Land Tours. She is originally from Poland and moved to Bethlehem in 2010.

February 27, 2013February 27, 2013  0 comments  Holy Sites

Via Dolorosa, also known as Way of the Cross is situated in the Old City of Jerusalem. It is the route that traditionally traces the steps of Jesus Christ on the way to Golgotha, the place of his crucifixion, burial and resurrection.


For centuries pilgrims have followed the Via Dolorosa daily, even though its path might not be exactly the one that Christ took on the last day of his life, as it has changed over the centuries together with the topography of the town. However, what is important, is the tradition and purpose of commemorating Christ’s passion under the cross.


Via Dolorosa has 14 stations, called Stations of the Cross, which relate to the particular events that happened on the way to the Place of the Skull. Let us take a closer look at each of the stations to understand better the events of the past.


Station I – Jesus is condemned to death


“So they bound him, led him away and handed him over to Pilate the governor.” (Matt 27:2)


The Via Dolorosa starts in front of the Ottoman building of ‘Madrasa el-Omariyya’, a school situated in the Muslim Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City, around 300 m from the Lion’s Gate. The tradition says that here stood the Roman Antonia Fortress where Jesus was sentenced to death. Here, every Friday at 3 pm through October till March or at 4 pm through April till September, the Franciscan brothers begin their walk along the Via Dolorosa.


Station II - Jesus carries His cross


“Then they led him away to crucify him.” (Matt 27:31)


Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem Travelujah Monastery of the Flagellation


This second station is in front of the Franciscan Monastery of the Flagellation, which was completely rebuilt in 1929 on medieval foundations. The church traditionally marks the place where Jesus took up the cross, after being flogged and crowned with thorns.


The Franciscan complex on the site contains two churches - the Flagellation and also the Condemnation. The buildings surrounding the monasteries house the Studium Biblicum Franciscanum, a prestigious institute of biblical, geographical and archaeological studies and Studium Museum, which contains various archaeological items excavated by the Franciscans.


The Way of the Cross follows under the magnificent Ecce Homo Arch. The arch stands on the site where Pontius Pilate is said to have uttered the words: “Ecce homo” - Here is the man” (John 19:5) while exposing Jesus to the crowd. The arch was built in 70 AD to support a ramp being laid against the Antonian Fortress and after rebuilding Jerusalem in 135 AD the arch was reconstructed as a monument of Roman victory.


Station III - Jesus falls the first time


The third station is located on the crossroad between the streets of Via Dolorosa and El-Wad. It marks the moment when Jesus fell for the first time under the weight of the cross,  commemorated by a relief above the door of a small chapel on this site.


The sanctuary once was the main entrance to the baths “Hammam es-Sultan”, built in 15th century. It was bought by the Armenian Catholic Patriarchate in 1856. It is sometimes called the ‘Polish chapel’ as it was renovated with the financial help of the Polish army in the late 40s of the 20th century.


Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem Travelujah Interior of the Ecce Homo Chapel


Station IV - Jesus meets his mother


“When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman, here is your son,” (Jn 19:26)


According to the tradition, the fourth station is situated at the place where Jesus met his mother Mary on the way to Golgotha. The location of this point, a bit further on El-Wad street, is exactly in front of the Armenian Church of Our Lady of the Spasm from 1881. When digging the foundations for the church, a great mosaic dating to the 7th century was found, which probably belonged to the church of St. Sophia (Holy Wisdom).


Between the third and fourth station, look under your feet and notice a well preserved stones remaining from the Roman street, probably the “secondary” Cardo of Aelia Capitolina (Jerusalem). It is well possible that Jesus could have walked on these stones.


Station V - Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus to carry the cross


Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem Travelujah V Station of the Cross


“As they were going out, they met a man from Cyrene, named Simon, and they forced him to carry the cross.” (Matt 27:32)


Jesus’ pitiful condition and the weight of the cross made the way extremely difficult. Roman soldiers ordered Simon of Cirene (today’s Libia) to help Jesus carry the cross. There are some theories that perhaps Simon might have been one of Christ’s disciples, however, he might have been just one of the pilgrims coming to Jerusalem in observance of Passover.


The fifth station commemorates this event and is located at the small church built in 1895, on the first Franciscan site in Jerusalem founded in 1229-1244.


Station VI - Veronica wipes the face of Jesus


This station is dedicated to a woman who wanted to ease the pain of Christ by whipping his face from blood and sweat with her veil. Then the piece of material she used revealed the impression of Christ’s face.


The exact story is not mentioned in the Gospels but can be based on those verses from Luke “A large number of people followed him, including women who mourned and wailed for him.”(23:27) proving the presence of women dedicated to Jesus at the site.


According to the tradition, which might be based on the writings of the ancient scholar Eusebius, it was Berenice (St. Veronica), a women once healed by Jesus, who wiped his face. The name Veronica could be a corruption of the name Berenice. However, the woman’s name could be also derived from the Latin words vera and icon which mean ‘true image’ - Jesus’ portrait on her veil.


In the wall of a small Greek Catholic chapel of “The Holy Face” there is an old stone with an inscription indicating the sixth station. The remains are probably parts of ancient monastery of St. Cosmas and Damian from the middle of 6th century.


Station VII -Jesus falls the second time


In the time of Christ, Golgotha was outside the city walls. Traditionally, the seventh station of the Via Dolorosa commemorates Jesus second fall under the weight of the cross. This time, he collapsed when crossing one of the gates of Jerusalem leading out to the country. The place is called “Gate of Judgment”.


The station is marked by a large Roman column placed in the Franciscan chapel, which once stood on the ancient thoroughfare, the Cardo Maximus, the main route of Roman Jerusalem.


Station VIII - Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem


On the outer wall of a Greek Orthodox St. Charambalos monasterythere is a small cross carved that marks the eight station, which is the traditional point where Jesus met the the women of Jerusalem, who mourned over his destiny. “Jesus turned and said to them, ‘Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep for yourselves and for your children.’” (Luke 23:28)


Station IX- Jesus falls the third time


A bit further and very close to Golgotha, the ninth station represents the site where Jesus fell for the third time. The spot is marked by a cross on a pillar located on the wall of the Coptic Patriarchate building, the northeastern part wall of the Holy Sepulcher.


Next to the ninth station there is a small Coptic Orthodox church of St. Helen. Inside there is a great water cistern, believed to be discovered by the mother of Emperor Constantine  in the 4th century AD and has served as a source of water for the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.


Station X-  Jesus is stripped of his garments


Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem Travelujah Facade of the Holy Sepulchre Church


 “[…] they divided up his clothes by casting lots.” (Matt 27:35)


The tenth station is placed at the entrance of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and exactly in the Chapel of the Franks. At this spot Jesus was stripped off his clothes and once more ashamed in front of all the gathered people.


Station XI - Crucifixion: Jesus is nailed to the cross


After reaching the place of the crucifixion, the hill just outside Jerusalem, Jesus was nailed to the cross. This station is placed inside of the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre, at the Latin altar, which in  1938 was decorated with mosaic representing the scene of the crucifixion.


“They crucified him […]”(Matt 27:35) – These short sentence includes a very severe torture which was implied on Jesus for putting him to death.


Station XII - Jesus dies on the cross


Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem Travelujah XII Station of the Cross


“And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.” (Matt 27:50)


After the last cry on the cross, the Christ died in agony – the Saviour consummated his great sacrifice for our sins. The Greek Orthodox altar marks the twelfth station, just next to the previous one. Under the altar can be seen a silver plate with a hole in the middle, which shows the spot where the Cross stood.


Station XIII - Jesus is taken down from the cross


Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem Travelujah 

Mosaics in the Holy Sepulchre


After he died, Jesus was taken from the cross and prepared for entombment: “Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs.” (Jn 19:40) It was in the habit to break bones of convicts to check if they are really death. But in case of Jesus, a soldier stubbed his right side with a spear to make the scripture come true “”


The altar of the Stabat Mater, with a beautiful wooden 16-17th century statue of Mater Dolorosa donated in 1778 from Lisbon, marks the thirteenth station that stands between the eleventh and twelfth stations.


Station XIV - Jesus is laid in the tomb


This is the last station of the Way of the Cross, situated in Rotunda – a round hall of the Holy Sepulcher, with the Tomb of Christ in its centre.


Jesus’ body was requested by one of his disciples Joseph, a rich man of Arimathea, who placed the body in his own tomb situated close to the place of the Skull. Christ could not be entombed any further than that, because of the nearness of the Sabbath.



If you go:


When to go?


It is possible to follow Via Dolorosa at any day of a week, however the most common days to do it are Fridays. The Franciscan brothers follow the Way of the Cross every Friday, starting at 3 pm (October - March) or at 4 pm (April - September) at the 1st station in front of the ‘Madrasa el-Omariyya’ school. On the Good Friday, 23rd of March 2013, the solemn procession of Via Dolorosa will start at 11:30 am.


Opening Hours:


  • Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre – April – September: 5 am – 9 pm; October – March: 4 am – 7 pm; tel: 02 – 6267000
  • Ecce Homo – Lithostrotos – 8 am – 5 pm; tel: 02 – 6277292
  • Flagellation Church, Via Dolorosa - April – September: 8 am – 6 pm; October – March: 8 am – 5 pm;
  • Flagellation Convent – Museum: 8 am – 1 pm & 2 pm – 4 pm; closed on Sundays and Mondays; tel. 02 - 627-04-56
  • Most of the monasteries on the way are open daily during the daylight.


Carry your Cross


There is a possibility of borrowing a wooden cross, which group could carry during the procession. The cross could be picked up at the Monastery of Flagellation (2nd station). The service is free of charge. The owner of the crosses also offers group photographs to capture the great moment of their pilgrimage. For more information and reservation call: 057-444-97-48


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Beata Andonia works for the Bethlehem tourist bureau and blogs regularly about Bethlehem for Travelujah-Holy Land Tours. She is originally from Poland and moved to Bethlehem in 2010.

March 28, 2013March 28, 2013  0 comments  Holy Sites

“Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull”. (Jn 19:17)


Jesus Christ was unjustly pronounced to death, however, he did not oppose to the given sentence for it was his wish and act of an unconditional love to die for our sins and be a redeemer to us. He was crucified and later entombed on a hill called Golgotha in Aramaic, Kranion in Greek, and Catvary in Latin, which means ‘skul’. This was also the place of his resurrection.


In the gospels, the place of the Skull is described as garden just outside the walls of Jerusalem, which gives us a good impression of the common tradition among the civilizations of the ancient world to place tombs outside the city walls.


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However, due to many changes in the topography of the town, nowadays, we cannot see Golgotha as it used to be on the day of Christ’s death. In 41-42 AD Herod Agrippa enlarged the city walls towards the northwest, so the place of the Skull became incorporated into the proper part of Jerusalem.


Temple of Jupiter


Early Christians used to gather in the places significant for Jesus’ life. Thus, the area of Golgotha was a site of their worship, probably until 135 AD, when the Roman Emperor Hadrian decided to reconstruct Jerusalem and name it Aelia Capitolina. The Emperor, as an opponent to Christianity, built over Calvary an altar dedicated to Jupiter and over the Tomb an altar for Venus.


Constantinian Church


According to the writings of historian Eusebius (263 – 339 AD), the Roman temple stood on the site of Golgotha until 326 A.D. This was the year in which Empress Helena, mother of the First Christian Emperor of Rome - Constantine, began her pilgrimage to the Holy Land. During her journey she founded multiple churches - one of them was the splendid Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre, which was inaugurated in 335.


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The architects of Emperor Constantine raised tree blocks of buildings, which position and arrangement are still visible today.


The first block, called Anastasis and meaning resurrection, contained the Tomb, which isolated from the mountain, stood in the center of a colonnade of double row of columns supporting a cupola with an oculus. This part till now remains almost intact.


The second block occupied the area called the Holy Garden, which on the sides had galleries enclosing a vast open space. In the south corner stood the Rock of Calvary, on which shone a cross of gold. Its principal architectural elements were arcades and galleries. Today of the Constantinian construction all that remains is the long wall to the north.


The third block of Martyrion Basilica, formed a great construction erected for liturgical celebrations, which could be entered by atrium from the main street Cardo Maximus of Aelia. Unfortunately, not much remains of that part, so it is impossible to fully reconstruct the plan this building.


Persian Invasion


The impressive edifice of Constantine was destroyed during the Persian invasion of 614, but immediately after, the church was restored by the Abbot Modestus, however on a reduced plan.


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Caliph Hakem


In the 11th century, the fanatic Caliph Hakem again brought the Holy Sepulcher into destruction, however its restoration was completed in 1048 by Emperor Constantine Monomachus. And this time only the Anastasis regained its former magnificence and the other Holy Sites were marked just by little oratories.




In the 12th century, the cupola over Christ’s Tomb and the chapels on Calvary were joined together under one roof, within a magnificent cathedral. The Rotunda (Anastasis) was conserved in great part and furnished with a grand triumphal arch opening on the new church erected on the former garden, used as a choir, which was contained within pillars and columns, provided with a  tribune and surrounded by and ambulatory.


The southern courtyard was beautified with a bell tower and a noble entrance to Calvary, called the Chapel of the Franks. The North aisle, called “The Arches of the Virgin” was not changed. According to Tradition, this is where Mary walked to visit her Son’s Tom. Saint Helena’s lower Basilica was built during the Crusader era, as was the Chapel of the Finding of the Holy Cross.


The edifice of the Crusaders, although despoiled of its early splendour and disfigured by later additions and deplorable restoration, exists to this day in its main outline.




Nowadays, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher looks like a puzzle – it is shared on many small chapels, which each of them has its own name.


The churche’s façade till now preserves the characteristic of the crusader architecture. It has twin doors, the right of which has been closed in the time of Saladin (end of 12th century), the other has since 1246 been confided to the custody of two Muslim families, one of each keeps the key, while the other has the right of opening.


The last structural changes were made after the great fire in 1808. Among other works, the Rotunda over the Tomb was renovated. From the Constantine times, there remain only its external walls. The elegant marble columns were in 1810 enclosed in the massive pillar, which reduced the diameter of the Rotunda from the 33 m to 19,30 m.


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Catholic celebrations for Easter 2013 in the Holy Sepulchre:


Good Friday - 29th of March

  • 8.00 The doors of the Basilica open (Note: only for celebration, not for visits and close shortly afterwards.)
  • 8.15 Celebration of the Passion of the Lord on Calvary
  • 11.30 Way of the Cross from the I. Station (Omarije School) to the Holy Sepulchre with the Fransiscan fathers
  • 16.00 Service
  • 20.10 "Funeral" Procession


Holy Saturday - 30th of March

  • 7.30 Easter Vigil
  • 15.15 Entrance and solemn procession
  • 18.00 Evening prayer in front of the Holy Tomb
  • 00.30 Pontifical celebration of the Liturgy of the Hours in front of the Holy Tomb with the Custos of the Holy Land


Easter Sunday - 31st March

  • 9.30 Entrance of the Latin Patriarch
  • 9.45 Pontifical mass and solemn procession
  • 17.00 Daily procession


Easter Monday - 1st April

  • 8.00 Daily solemn mass
  • 17.00 Daily procession


If you go:


The Church of the Holy Sepulchre is located at St. Helena Street in the Old City of Jerusalem. Phone: (02) 6273314


Opening hours: (April-September) Sundays 5.00 am - 8.00 pm, Monday Saturday 5.00 am - 9.00 pm. (October-March) Sundays 4.00 am - 7.00 pm. Monday-Saturday  4.00 am - 7.00 pm





Armenian Orthodox

8.45 am Liturgy twice a month

9.45 am Liturgy (S) twice a month

4.15 pm Procession (W)

5.15 pm Procession (S)

3.30 am Liturgy (W)

4.30 am Liturgy (S)

4.15 pm Procession Fri.& Sat. (W)

5.15 pm Procession Fri.& Sat. (S)

Coptic Orthodox

7.00 am Liturgy (W)

8.00 am Liturgy (S)

6.00 am Liturgy Wed.& Fri. (W)

7.00 am Liturgy Wed. & Fri. (S)

2.30 pm Vespers Sat. (W)

4.00 pm Vespers Sat. (S)

Greek Orthodox

7.00 am Orthros (W)

8.00 am Orthros (S)

11.00 pm Liturgy (W)

12.00 mn Liturgy (S)

Roman Catholic


between 5.30 am & 8.00 am

6.30 am High Mass (Latin)

6.00 pm



between 4.30 am & 7.00 am

5.30 am High Mass (Latin)

5.00 pm


between 5.30 am & 8.00 am

7.30 am High Mass (Latin)

6.00 pm Saturday



between 4.30 am & 7.00 am

6.30 am High Mass (Latin)

5.00 pm Saturday

Syrian Orthodox

8.30 am Liturgy (W)

9.30 am Liturgy (S)




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Beata Andonia works for the Bethlehem tourist bureau and blogs regularly about Bethlehem for Travelujah-Holy Land Tours. She is originally from Poland and moved to Bethlehem in 2010. 

May 10, 2013May 10, 2013  0 comments  Holy Sites

“After the Lord Jesus had talked with them [apostles], he was taken up to heaven and sat at the right side of God.” (Mark 16:19)


After his resurrection, Christ appeared to his disciples many times. However, after 40 days since he was brought back to live, Jesus rose up to heaven. According to Evangelist Luke, it happened close to Jerusalem, in the area of Mount of Olives, on the way to Bethany.


When the apostles saw Jesus suddenly disappearing behind a cloud, they were disoriented and shocked. Two angels, however, made them calm down, predicting Christ’s return: “Galileans, why are you standing there looking up at the sky? This Jesus, who was taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way that you saw him go to heaven.” (Acts 1:11)


The Chapel of the Ascension


In the early days of Christianity, still before the Emperor’s Constantine conversion in 312 AD, early believers honoured Christ’s Ascension in a concealed cave on the Mount of Olives. This kind of secret worship was quite common, as it was much safer to congregate in hidden places in the time of the Roman persecution. Egeria, who made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem around 381 - 384 AD, in her writings describes her participation in a celebration of Ascension that took place on the present open site, uphill from the cave.


Chapel of the Ascension


The spot on the Mount of Olives for building the chapel commemorating Christ’s Ascension was pointed out by Constantine’s mother Queen Helena, who was a pious Christian. She also defined the sites for erecting the Basilica of the Nativity and the Holy Sepulcher.


The first shrine was built with help of Poimenia, a member of an imperial family, in the 4th century (around 378 – 384 AD). The great rotunda open to the sky was erected and called Imbomon, which means "above the hill".


The Byzantine structure had originally two concentric ambulatories (6 m and 2 m in perimeter) that surrounded the principal round space with the spot from which Christ is believed to ascended to heaven located in its center. The church had no proper apse,  just an altar located east of the rock. The archaeological investigations of C. Schick in 1887 and Fr. Corbo between 1959 and 1964 confirmed the round design.


Furthermore, in the 5th century the Chapel of Ascension went through a phase of architectural shifts, when around 438 Melania the Younger installed a shrine in it, eukterion which means ‘a place of prayer’ for St. Stephen. The inauguration ceremony was held during the first imperial visit to the Holy Land of Empress Eudocia, wife of Theodosius II (around 438).


It is not certain if the the church was destructed during the Persian invasion in 614 as the pilgrim Arculf describes the round church open to the sky in 670. However if it was destroyed, the Imbomon might have been restored by Patriarch Modestos around 626.


While the church still existed in 870, it seems to have vanish before Crusaders’s arrival. It was probably destroyed by Fatimid caliph Hakim in 1009.


The Crusaders built on its place an octagonal church which could have been reached by taking 20 steps up. Under the altar was shown a stone from which the Lord rose to heaven, and in which the legend and strong belief sees Christ’s footprint. The chapel was surrounded by still clearly visible columns and arches. The church was encircled by a fortified Crusader monastery.


Chapel of the Ascension


In 1187, the Church of the Ascension came under the Muslim possession and it was transformed into a mosque in 1200, which preserved much of the Crusader design but added a roof and a mihrab. Though not mentioned in Quran, Muslims believe that Jesus ascended into heaven. As the chapel was mainly used by Christians, in 1620 the mosque was relocated to a new structure of Zawiyat al-Adawiyya Mosque built just next to it.


In 1835 the Crusader structure became an enclosed room – the walls were added between the columns and a small dome was built over the roof.


Feast of Ascension


The Ascension Day that commemorates the bodily Ascension of Jesus into heaven is observed on Thursday, on the fortieth day of Easter. It is a movable feast since Easter is as well. The Catholic and Protestant Churches will celebrate the Feast of Ascension this year on the 9th of May 2013 and the Eastern Orthodox Churches on 13th of June 2013.


In Jerusalem, the feast is annually celebrated with a solemn mass at the site of the Chapel of the Ascension.


Chapel of the Ascension


If you go:


The Chapel of the Ascension and the Zawiyat al-Adawiyya Mosque are located in the suburb of At-Tur on the Mount of Olives. It is easy to reach it on foot from Jerusalem’s Old City. It is also possible to take bus #75 from the Bus Station next to the Damascus Gate, which will take you there. Entrance fee: 5 NIS ($ 1.50)


Visit as well:




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Beata Andonia works for the Bethlehem tourist bureau and blogs regularly about Bethlehem for Travelujah-Holy Land Tours. She is originally from Poland and moved to Bethlehem in 2010. 

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