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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.

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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.


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