Saint Mark’s Church
There is conflict about the original site of The Last Supper. St. Mark’s Church is acclaimed by some scholars as the true site of The Last Supper. The ceremony was thought to be in a small cellar room of the home where Mary, mother of St. Mark, the Evangelist, lived.
But other scholars say that this site, (see picture here) later reconstructed by Crusaders was where Christ ate the last meal with His Disciples. Beneath this hall is a very small chamber venerated as King David’s Tomb. In the 15th century David’s Tomb was incorporated into a Mosque and was one of the most revered of Jewish Holy sites because David was considered one of the True Prophets by the Muslims. Consequently, this Last Supper site may have been preserved by the tomb beneath.
Next on our agenda is the Holy Sepulchre Church. This building includes Christ’s Crucifixion, Burial and Resurrection and therefore the most important site in Christendom.
The size of the church now is huge compared to the foundations of the original. There was destruction by attackers, later a big fire and finally an earthquake. I feel that the reconstructions helped by allocating 6 chapels to different denominations.
This Chapel is one of the many in this complex including: Armenians, Greeks, Copts, Roman Catholics, Ethiopians, and Syrians. I did not go into Christ’s Tomb because over 200 people were in line and the limit was 2 minutes per person. Just being there was enough.
After lunch, our guide Roy drove us around the outside of the Old City for a view of the Separation Wall.
This barrier is certainly more than a symbol of the division between the Jews and the Palestinians. Israel created this security barrier to restrict movement of the Palestinians into Israel. They can only enter with prior authorization and going through check-points. And these generally don’t engender friendships.
The Western(Wailing) Wall is Judaism’s holiest site and a permanent place of worship. The huge base stones were from the time of Herod the Great in 35BC. During the war between the Romans and Jews (70 AD), the 2nd Temple caught fire. The remaining, original part of the Temple became the site where Jews came to lament their loss.
The Western Wall Plaza is a large open-air synagogue observing daily services or special events of the Jewish faith. Some conflicts do arise over issues such as the size of the men’s and women’s sections (see extreme right side) and where non-orthodox groups with both sexes participating can meet.
This Wall is the western side of what is presently the Temple Mount—-which is one of the sacred sites of Islam. And this is but one incident of the complexity of Jerusalem.
Look at the lower left of the wall- (the archway facing forward), partially blocked by people, Wilson’s Arch. (named after its 19th C archaeologist) and this arch is the entrance to the Western Wall Tunnel.
To explore the Tunnel, you enter here, but to reserve tickets, book well in advance.
The Tunnel follows the base of the outside wall of the Temple and is 60 plus feet below the present street level.
The chamber is very narrow, single-file only, and parallels the giant stone slabs placed there in 35 BC by Herod the Great. It is also claustrophobic. The path rises upward steeply with intermittent staircases. We were allowed to touch the huge stones used for the base of the wall, all shaped and fitted smoothly together in 35 BC. With only the use of basic tools.
At the very top, we entered a large room that was a cistern built at the same time as the walls.
Above the cistern was a flat rooftop with various openings and channels to funnel the rain water into the cistern and, from there, the water was distributed throughout the system. (Especially handy when attacked!)
Since this was our last day in Jerusalem, we ate on the veranda of the executive lounge and tipped a glass to The Dome of the Rock. A suitable ending to a marvelous stay.