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St. Anne's Church

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The Roman Catholic church, known for its amazing acoustics, is adjacent to the Pool of Bethesda believed to be the place where Jesus healed a paralytic (John 5:1-5).


The church is a 12th-century Crusader church built between 1131 and 1138 to replace a previous Byzantine church. For some time, the church was turned into a Muslim theological school by Saladin. It was turned over to the French in the 1800s.


The church stands just inside the entrance to the Old City through Lion Gate and is right at the beginning of the Via Dolorosa.

 

Photo courtesy of All About Jerusalem.com

 

Saint Anne in the Bible

 

There is no mention in the Bible about Mary's parents or the birthplace of Mary. The tradition derives from the apocryphal Gospel of James, which dates from around 150 AD and places the house of Jesus' maternal grandparents, Anne and Joachim, close to the Temple area.


The name Anne is Hannah in Hebrew and means grace.

 

History of Saint Anne Church in the Holy Land

 

St. Anne is the best-preserved Crusader church in Jerusalem. Located just inside inside St Stephen’s or Lions’ Gate, the church stands in a beautiful courtyard and adjacent to the Pool of Bethesda, believed to be the place where Jesus healed the paralytic.


The current church was erected near the remains of an earlier Byzantine basilica built over what remained of a pagan shrine to either the Egyptian god Serapis or the Greek god Asclepius, both gods of healing. Crusaders believed the grotto to be Anne's birthplace and built the church which was completed in 1138. St. Anne's was not destroyed by the Mamelukes who captured the Holy Land in the 12th century. In 1192, a year after his conquest of Jerusalem, Saladin converted it into an Islamic seminary and during the ensuing centuries of Muslim rule in the land, Christian pilgrims were only permitted inside the grotto for a fee. Eventually the church was abandoned and fell into ruin. In 1856, the Ottomans gave the church over to the French. St. Anne's still belongs to the French government and is administered by the White Fathers, an order of the Catholic Church named for the color of their robes.

 

Background of Saint Anne Church in the Holy Land


The church is renowned for its remarkable acoustics and reverberating echoes. A stairway in the main sanctuary leads down to the crypt, believed to be the birthplace of Mary.

 

Travelujah Tips

Location: The Lion's Gate, Old City, Jerusalem

Hours: Monday through Saturday, 8 a.m. to noon and 2 to 5p.m. (6 p.m. in summer); closed Sunday

Cost: 10 shekels

 

 

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