Wednesday, February 24, 2010

At the Maison D'Abraham

There is a group of French Roman Catholic nuns here in Jerusalem who run a convent called the Maison D'Abraham [French for House of Abraham]. Their mission is to be a hospice for pilgrims to the Holy Land from all three of the Abrahamic faiths. First, they served us a lovely lunch. Then, we went up on their roof, for an overview [literally, and historically] of the city of Jerusalem.

This photo looks out over the to the old city. You can see the wall of the Old City running right through the center of the picture. The gold dome in the center is the Dome of the Rock, which is a Muslim, Jewish, and Christian holy place. For Muslims, it marks the spot where Muhammed is said to have ascended to heaven. For Jews, it is located where the temple stood. Crusaders turned it into a church in the 12th century. It returned to Muslim control when the Crusaders were expelled.

The black dome to its left is the Al Aqsa Mosque, which dates from the early 8th century. At the time it was built, it was the furthest mosque from Mecca; Al Aqsa translates as "The Farthest."

This picture shows the garden of Gethsemane, off in the distance. Gethsemane means something like olive press, and it was (is) primarily an olive grove.

Looking west (and slightly south) you can see the site where Caiphas' palace is said to have stood.

One of my main reasons for coming on this pilgrimage was to gain some sense of this place. I've read these stories for my whole life. To literally see them (even as modern as they now are) and to have a sense of this geography is utterly amazing.

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