Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Sanctuary of Gethsemane

The Gethsemane Chapel

We all gathered by the altar to pray

The centuries-old olive trees

Saturday before Palm Sunday, we were at Jerusalem for the baptism rites of Matt and Weng’s baby Kristelle (pictures to follow on my next posts). All embassy people and friends went to Israel’s Holy City via bus so this afforded us the convenience of visiting Jerusalem sites that we haven’t checked out yet.

I got the see the Sanctuary of Gethsemane for the first time. We were quite fortunate to have Father Angelo, a Filipino Franciscan priest, as our guide. And we were even allowed to go inside the chapel despite the fact that it was past visiting hours. Everyone all gathered around the rock in front of the altar and said our short prayers.

There was a courtyard on the right of the chapel in which olive trees grew and have remained alive for many centuries now. It was said that these trees writhed as if in pain at the time of the Crucifixion of Jesus. Gethsemane, by the way is Gat Shamanim, the Hebrew term for a press that produces olive oil.

You can sense that what pervades in the air around the surroundings of the sanctuary is that of an ironic enlivening feeling of antiquity. I am truly blessed for having been able to visit this place. Perhaps the Sanctuary of Gethsemane is one of the most revered Christian places in Israel.

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