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January 19    Scripture

Sites - Israel: Holy Land Churches
Travel Sites

Chapel of the Ascension Travel Information There are three Churches of the Ascension built on the Mount of Olives, and this chapel (now a mosque) claims to be the oldest. Its foundations date back to the time of Poimenia at the end of the fourth century, but, like the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the current structure is of crusader origins. (Israel Minister of Tourism)

Chapel of the Primacy of Peter This church is located roughly 500 yards from the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes Church in the same compound of "seven springs". It commemorates the post- resurrection sighting of Jesus in Johns Gospel when, seeing the disciples fishing, he calls them over to the lake side to have breakfast, at the same time forgiving Peter for his weakness on the night of the trial. The church is built over the rock where the fire was lit. (Israel Minister of Tourism)

Christ Church Christ Church, near Jerusalem Jaffa Gate, was the first Protestant church in the Middle East, established in the nineteenth century, when the winds of modernity first began to blow in this ancient land. Christ Church was built by the Church of England following the purchase of the land in 1833, in what was and still is an excellent location. It holds regular services in several languages and runs a charming guesthouse. From an architectural point of view, it is a very unusual house of prayer. Neo-Gothic in style, it contains no overt Christian symbols, but rather is replete with Old Testament ones. The intricate stained glass windows, for example, depict some of the Seven Species of Deuteronomy 8:8 and other Old Testament themes; the Ten Commandments are inscribed in Hebrew behind the wooden altar and paneling behind the altar is reminiscent of the Torah ark in a synagogue. (Israel Minister of Tourism)

Church of John the Baptist in Wikipedia The Church of St John the Baptist in Nessebar, Bulgaria is a domed cruciform church, built of undressed stone. It's one of the best preserved in Nessebar. It is 12 m long and 10 wide. The structure of the church consists of two cylindrical vaults which intersect in the center of the composition. The masonry is crushed stone and pebbles and the facades were probably smoothly plastered. It was built in the 10th century. It has no narthex. The altar space consists of three semi-circular apses. Four massive pillars support the dome and form the cross. Inside the walls are smooth and unbroken. Some frescoes have been preserved dating from later periods. The faded portraits of the donor and his contemporaries on the southern wall and the fragments beneath the dome date from 14th c. and the others are from the 16th and 17th centuries. One depicts St. Marina pulling a devil from the sea before braining it with a hammer — possibly representing the local merchants' hopes that their patron would deal the Cossack pirates who raided Nessebar in the 17th Century A.D. The exterior is simple without decorative niches and ceramic plaques, typical of the ornamental style. Bricks were used as a decorative element over the entrance, in the jagged cornices and around the windows. Nowadays the church houses a gallery.

Church of John the Baptist – Ein Karem A picturesque lane in a village outside of Jerusalem, Ein Karem – the traditional “town in the hill country of Judea” (Luke 1:39) – leads to the Church of John the Baptist, where Christians have marked Johns birthplace for over 1,500 years. The vestiges of many centuries of destruction and rebirth can all be seen here; mosaics attest to earlier houses of worship, while the inner walls of todays church, rebuilt in 1674, are covered with beautiful blue and white Spanish tiles. The most ancient part of this venerable landmark is downstairs. It is the cave where early Christians gathered to worship on the site of the house of Elizabeth and Zachariah. Here, depicted in marble, are John’s birth, his naming, and his baptism of Jesus in the Jordan. After your visit, the church courtyard, shaded by pungent pepper trees, is the perfect place for prayer and Bible study. (Israel Minister of Tourism)

Church of Mary Magdalene Visitors entering the large green gate of the Russian Orthodox Church of Mary Magdalene near the foot of the Mount of Olives feel they are not only stepping back in time, but entering another country. Many Jerusalem churches give this feeling, and for good reason: they are the legacy of the nineteenth century, when the crowned heads of Europe all graced the Holy City with grand buildings in the styles of their own country. The church reflects much Russian history – it was built in 1895 by Czar Alexander III in memory of his mother Maria Alexandrovna, and named for her patron saint, Mary Magdalene. With its seven magnificent onion-topped, glinting gold domes in the style of Moscow’s sixteenth- century churches, this is one of the city’s best-known sacred landmarks. The most impressive aspects of the visit are the blooming gardens and the breathtaking view of the Golden Gate, framed by cypress and olive trees. (Israel Minister of Tourism)

Church of Nathanael Cana, where Jesus performed his first public miracle, the changing of water into wine, was also the home town of one of the Twelve Apostles, Nathanael (John 21:2). Along the street leading to the Franciscan Wedding Church, a chapel marks Nathanaels home. This is the place to read his words to Philip as they talked about Jesus. Some believe Nathanaels famous but curious remark - “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” (John 1:46) – indicates some consternation that the home town of the Messiah was the “ordinary” neighboring village of Nazareth, no more noteworthy than his own. The Latin inscription on the façade of this small nineteenth-century church reminds visitors that Nathanael was also called Bartholomew (Matt. 10:3; Mark 3:18; Luke 6:14; Acts 1:13). It displays a painting of Nathanaels martyrdom; a relief on the white stone altar depicts his meeting with Philip. (Israel Minister of Tourism)

Church of St. Gabriel When you descend into the grotto of the Church of St. Gabriel in Nazareth, give yourself over to the sound of rushing water, the cool stone walls, and a sense of the village where Jesus grew up. The well, its edges grooved by countless ropes bearing vessels to the water, and the steps to the spring, may be a 1,000 years old. The Gospels do not say where in Nazareth the angel Gabriel announced to Mary that she would give birth to Jesus (Luke 1:26-38), but it is easy to imagine, as ancient tradition says, that it took place here, at the spring, where Mary would have come daily with the other village girls to draw water. This church, its walls colorfully painted with Gospel scenes, still serves Christians of this city. (Israel Minister of Tourism)

Church of St. Joseph Even amid the hustle and bustle of the modern city that Nazareth is today, the ancient, tiny village where Jesus grew up can still be found, sometimes where you least expect it. Old Nazareth can even reveal itself within the imposing complex of the Basilica of the Annunciation – in the Church of St. Joseph. Built in 1914, this church stands over the remains of an earlier house of worship, probably dating back to the sixth century. Below the sanctuary you will find caves, most likely used in Jesus’ day for the storage of grain, wine and oil. This site marks the traditional home of Joseph and Mary. A baptistery with seven steps is adorned with mosaic, depicting a ladder-like design, perhaps indicating the spiritual ascent of those coming up from the water. Christian visitors are moved when they realize that early Christians may have entered the faith right here, even before any church stood in Nazareth. (Israel Minister of Tourism)

Church of The Holy Sepulcher Easily the most celebrated, yet most contentious, church in Christendom, the Holy Sepulchre contains the traditional sites of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus under one roof. The site was rediscovered in the corner of the western forum of the Hadrianic city Aelia Capitolina by Queen Helena, Constantines mother, who knocked the temple down and built a huge basilica, which was dedicated on Easter day in the year 326. The church was partially rebuilt in the next century by Justinian, and remained untouched until 1009, when the mad caliph Hakim destroyed virtually all of it. It was patched up by a Monk called Robert, but when the Crusaders came across the city, around the year 1099, the church was rebuilt to only half of its original size, and thus it stands today. (Israel Minister of Tourism)

Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Wikipedia The Church of the Holy Sepulchre, also called the Church of the Resurrection by Eastern Christians, is a Christian church within the walled Old City of Jerusalem. It is a few steps away from the Muristan. The site is venerated by many Christians as Golgotha,[1] (the Hill of Calvary), where the New Testament says that Jesus was crucified,[2] and is said to also contain the place where Jesus was buried (the sepulchre). The church has been an important Christian pilgrimage destination since at least the 4th century, as the purported site of the resurrection of Jesus. Today it also serves as the headquarters of the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, while control of the building is shared between several Christian churches and secular entities in complicated arrangements essentially unchanged for centuries. Today, the church is home to six denominations, Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Armenian Orthodox, Syrian Orthodox, Coptic Orthodox, and Ethiopian Orthodox. The church is also of limited importance to Protestant Christians. History - Construction -- In the early second century, the site of the present Church had been a temple of Aphrodite; several ancient writers alternatively describe it as a temple to Venus, the Roman equivalent to Aphrodite. Eusebius claims, in his Life of Constantine,[3] that the site of the Church had originally been a Christian place of veneration, but that Hadrian had deliberately covered these Christian sites with earth, and built his own temple on top, due to his alleged hatred for Christianity[4] (the authenticity/inaccuracy of this claim is discussed below). Although Eusebius does not say as much, the temple of Aphrodite was probably built as part of Hadrian's reconstruction of Jerusalem as Aelia Capitolina in 135, following the destruction of the Jewish Revolt of 70 and Bar Kokhba's revolt of 132–135. Emperor Constantine I ordered in about 325/326 that the temple be demolished and the soil - which had provided a flat surface for the temple - be removed, instructing Macarius of Jerusalem, the local Bishop, to build a church on the site. The Pilgrim of Bordeaux reports in 333: There, at present, by the command of the Emperor Constantine, has been built a basilica, that is to say, a church of wondrous beauty.[5] Constantine directed his mother, Helena, to build churches upon sites which commemorated the life of Jesus Christ; she was present in 326 at the construction of the church on the site, and involved herself in the excavations and construction. During the excavation, Helena is alleged to have rediscovered the True Cross, and a tomb, though Eusebius' account makes no mention of Helena's presence at the excavation, nor of the finding of the cross but only the tomb. According to Eusebius, the tomb exhibited a clear and visible proof that it was the tomb of Jesus;[6][7] several scholars have criticised Eusebius' account for an uncritical use of sources, and for being thoroughly dishonest[8][9] with Edward Gibbon, for example, pointing out that Eusebius' own chapter headings[10] claim that fictions are lawful and fitting for him to use.[11] Socrates Scholasticus (born c. 380), in his Ecclesiastical History, gives a full description of the discovery[12] (that was repeated later by Sozomen and by Theodoret) which emphasizes the role played in the excavations and construction by Helena; just as the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem (also founded by Constantine and Helena) commemorated the birth of Jesus, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre would commemorate his death and resurrection. Constantine's church was built as two connected churches over the two different holy sites, including a great basilica (the Martyrium visited by the nun Egeria in the 380s), an enclosed colonnaded atrium (the Triportico) with the traditional site of Golgotha in one corner, and a rotunda, called the Anastasis ("Resurrection"), which contained the remains of a rock-cut room that Helena and Macarius had identified as the burial site of Jesus. The rockface at the west end of the building was cut away, although it is unclear how much remained in Constantine's time, as archaeological investigation has revealed that the temple of Aphrodite reached far into the current rotunda area,[13] and the temple enclosure would therefore have reached even further to the west. According to Christian tradition, Constantine arranged for the rockface to be removed from around the tomb, without harming it, in order to isolate the tomb; in the centre of the rotunda is a small building called the Kouvouklion (Kουβούκλιον; Modern Greek for small compartment) or Aedicule[14] (from Latin: aediculum, small building), which supposedly encloses this tomb, although it is not currently possible to verify the claim, as the alleged remains are completely enveloped by a marble sheath. The discovery of the kokhim tombs just beyond the west end of the Church, and more recent archaeological investigation of the rotunda floor, suggest that a narrow spur of at least ten yards length would have had to jut out from the rock face if the contents of the Aedicule were once inside it. The dome of the rotunda was completed by the end of the 4th century. Each year, the Eastern Orthodox Church celebrates the anniversary of the consecration of the Church of the Resurrection (Holy Sepulchre) on September 13 (for those churches which follow the traditional Julian Calendar, September 13 currently falls on September 26 of the modern Gregorian Calendar)....

Church of the Nativity Second only to the Holy Sepulcher, it’s no wonder the Church of the Nativity is one of the most popular places to visit on Christian Holy Land tours as it was built on the site of Jesus’ birth. The Church of the Nativity is actually built over a cave that is believed to be the bottom floor of a 2-story house. Back then, humans would have lived on the top floor and animals would have lived below. Though often referred to as an “inn” in the Bible, it was actually a “guest room” attached the house. When Joseph and Mary arrived for the census, this room was already full, which was why Mary and Joseph were told to stay downstairs with the animals. Surely this is a must-see on your tour to the Holy Land. Luke Chapter 2:1-7 1 In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be enrolled. 2 This was the first enrollment, when Quirini-us was governor of Syria. 3 And all went to be enrolled, each to his own city. 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. 6 And while they were there, the time came for her to be delivered. 7 And she gave birth to her first-born son and wrapped him in swaddling cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

Church of the Nativity in Wikipedia The Church of the Nativity (Arabic: كنيسة المهد‎) in Bethlehem is one of the oldest continuously operating churches in the world. The structure is built over the cave that tradition marks as the birthplace of Jesus of Nazareth, and it is considered sacred by followers of both Christianity and Islam (see Jesus in Islam). History -- The antiquity of this tradition is attested by the Christian apologist Justin Martyr (c. 100 - 165), who noted in his Dialogue with Trypho that the Holy Family had taken refuge in a cave outside of town: Joseph took up his quarters in a certain cave near the village; and while they were there Mary brought forth the Christ and placed Him in a manger, and here the Magi who came from Arabia found Him.(chapter LXXVIII). Origen of Alexandria (185 AD–ca. 254) wrote: In Bethlehem the cave is pointed out where He was born, and the manger in the cave where He was wrapped in swaddling clothes. And the rumor is in those places, and among foreigners of the Faith, that indeed Jesus was born in this cave who is worshipped and reverenced by the Christians. (Contra Celsum, book I, chapter LI). The first basilica on this site was begun by Saint Helena, the mother of the Emperor Constantine I. Under the supervision of Bishop Makarios of Jerusalem, the construction started in 327 and was completed in 333. That structure was burnt down in the Samaritan Revolt of 529. The current basilica was rebuilt in its present form in 565 by the Emperor Justinian I. When the Persians under Chosroes II invaded in 614, they unexpectedly did not destroy the structure. According to legend, their commander Shahrbaraz was moved by the depiction inside the church of the Three Magi wearing Persian clothing, and commanded that the building be spared. The Crusaders made further repairs and additions to the building during the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem with permission and help given by the Byzantine Emperor, and the first King of Jerusalem was crowned in the church. Over the years, the compound has been expanded, and today it covers approximately 12,000 square meters. The church was one of the direct causes for French involvement in the Crimean War against Russia. The church is administered jointly by Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox and Armenian Apostolic authorities. All three traditions maintain monastic communities on the site...

Church of the Visitation The village of Ein Karem has had a long Association with John the Baptist, being his reported town of birth. This church honors the visit paid by Mary, Jesus' mother, to Elizabeth, John's mother. As this is the point at which Mary poured forth her song of praise, the Magnificat, the church is beautifully decked out with tiled representations of that canticle in just about every known language. (Israel Minister of Tourism)

Dominus Flevit Dominus Flevit (meaning "The Lord Wept") is a beautiful teardrop chapel which was only built in 1955 over the site of a Byzantine construction. It commemorates the occasion of Jesus looking at the city of Jerusalem and, when realizing that it was going to destroy itself by violence, weeping bitterly. In the grounds are the remains of the Byzantine church, as well as part of the first century necropolis that surrounded the city. The view is extraordinary. (Israel Minister of Tourism)

Dormition Abbey This marvelous church is a landmark of the city of Jerusalem, and is the site where the Virgin Mary is said to have died, or fell into 'eternal sleep'. Its Latin name is "Dormition Sanctae Mariae" (Sleep of St. Mary). The current church and Monastery, owned by the German Benedictine Order, was consecrated in 1906. It was noticeably damaged during the battles for the city in 1948 and 1967. In the crypt of the church lies a recumbent statue of the Virgin in death, and the rotunda above is noticeable for its glorious mosaic zodiac, a most unusual addition to a Christian church. (Israel Minister of Tourism)

Maronite Church Just off Jaffa Gate central square, on Maronite Convent Street, is Mar Maroun House, where the Maronite Christian community maintains a lovely guesthouse. The Maronites are an eastern Catholic denomination in communion with Rome, founded by a monk named Maroun. They maintain their own liturgy and canon law. Most Maronites live in Lebanon; the front of the altar in their chapel depicts a cedar of Lebanon in recognition of this fact. From the roof of the guesthouse, which is built around a flowering central courtyard, visitors can enjoy an unusual view of Jerusalem’s rooftops, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the Temple Mount, the Mount of Olives, and on a clear day, across the Dead Sea to Moab. (Israel Minister of Tourism)

Paternoster Church This church is built over a cave in which Jesus was said to have taught the disciples the prayer that begins "Our Father who art in heaven" (Latin: "Paternoster qui est in coelis"). The first church on the site, built by Constantines mother, Queen Helena, was destroyed in the Persian invasion of 614 and a replacement built by the crusaders, but the current edifice dates back only to the 19th century. The walls of the cloister and church are covered in versions of the prayer in just about every major known language, following a similar crusader practice attested to by contemporaneous pilgrimage accounts.

Russian Orthodox Cathedral in the Russian Compound Jerusalem The Holy Trinity Cathedral rises from the midst of busy downtown Jerusalem, one block east of Jaffa Road, where gilded crosses on the eight towers atop its copper-domed roof are a longtime city landmark. The church, consecrated in 1872, and the surrounding buildings were built in the era when the Russian Orthodox Church sent more pilgrims to the Holy Land than any other denomination. The location for the compound, which offered accommodations for 2,000 pilgrims, was chosen because of its proximity to the Old City and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. Eventually, as Russian influence declined, the buildings were converted for other uses; they now house the Jerusalem police station, among other institutions. (Israel Minister of Tourism)

Russian Orthodox Church at Ein Kerem Along the charming hillside paths linking chapel to church to cottage to dining hall on the grounds of the Russian Orthodox Gorney Convent, Ein Karem may best reveal itself as the “village in the hill country of Judea” where Mary came to visit Elizabeth (Luke 1:39). The convent, high on the slope above the Spring of Mary in the heart of Ein Karem, is enjoying major renovation – where once only the shell of a church stood because funds were lacking, burnished copper domes now catch the sun, and masons and artists are hard at work. (Israel Minister of Tourism)

Saint Marks Syrian Orthodox Church This small church is another possible site for the room that the Last Supper was held in and contains a Christian stone inscription testifying to early reverence for that spot. Certainly the room they have is older than that of the Coenaculum (crusader - twelfth century) and as the room is now underground the relative altitude is correct (the streets of first century Jerusalem were at least twelve feet, or 3.6 metres, lower than those of today, so any true building of that time would have even its upper storey currently under the earth). They also have a revered Icon of the Virgin Mary, reputedly painted from life by St. Luke. (Israel Minister of Tourism)

Saint Peter in Gallicantu Site of a Church since at least the 6th century, this spot is believed to be the location of Caiaphas house, the setting for Peters denial of his connection with Jesus on the night of his trial and the shedding of his self-recriminatory tears. Matthew Chapter 26:57-75 57 Then those who had seized Jesus led him to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders had gathered. 58 But Peter followed him at a distance, as far as the courtyard of the high priest, and going inside he sat with the guards to see the end. 59 Now the chief priests and the whole council sought false testimony against Jesus that they might put him to death, 60 but they found none, though many false witnesses came forward. At last two came forward 61 and said, “This fellow said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to build it in three days.’” 62 And the high priest stood up and said, “Have you no answer to make? What is it that these men testify against you?” 63 But Jesus was silent. And the high priest said to him, “I adjure you by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.” 64 Jesus said to him, “You have said so. But I tell you, hereafter you will see the Son of man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.” 65 Then the high priest tore his robes, and said, “He has uttered blasphemy. Why do we still need witnesses? You have now heard his blasphemy. 66 What is your judgment?” They answered, “He deserves death.” 67 Then they spat in his face, and struck him; and some slapped him, 68 saying, “Prophesy to us, you Christ! Who is it that struck you?” 69 Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. And a maid came up to him, and said, “You also were with Jesus the Galilean.” 70 But he denied it before them all, saying, “I do not know what you mean.” 71 And when he went out to the porch, another maid saw him, and she said to the bystanders, “This man was with Jesus of Nazareth.” 72 And again he denied it with an oath, “I do not know the man.” 73 After a little while the bystanders came up and said to Peter, “Certainly you are also one of them, for your accent betrays you.” 74 Then he began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, “I do not know the man.” And immediately the cock crowed. 75 And Peter remembered the saying of Jesus, “Before the cock crows, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly. (Israel Minister of Tourism)

St. Georges Monastery Just a few minutes from the Jerusalem-Dead Sea highway, St. Georges Monastery awaits amid a spectacular biblical desert where Christian monks maintain their ancient way of life. St. Georges Monastery began in the fourth century with a few monks who sought the desert experiences of the prophets, John the Baptist and Jesus, and settled around a cave where they believed Elijah was fed by ravens (1 Kings 17:5-6). The sixth-century cliff-hanging complex, with its ancient chapel and gardens, is still inhabited by a few Greek Orthodox monks. It is reached by a pedestrian bridge across the Kelt River canyon, which many imagine to be Psalm 23s Valley of the Shadow, and where shepherds still watch over their flocks, just as Ezekiel 34 and John 10:1-16 describe. The valley parallels the old Roman road to Jericho, the backdrop for the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:29- 37). (Israel Minister of Tourism)

St. Peters Church The steeple of St. Peters Church in Old Jaffa, overlooking the picturesque fishing port, has for over a century been a beacon signaling to sea-weary pilgrims that the Holy Land was near. The churchs charming red brick facade is an unusual accent in a city built of stone; its interior, with vaulted ceilings, stained-glass windows, marble-covered walls and a huge painting over the altar of Peters visitation by an angel, recalls churches in the Italian tradition. St. Peters, which holds daily Mass in several languages for a lively local congregation, was built in 1654 over a medieval fortress. In the late eighteenth century it was twice destroyed, and the present structure was completed in 1894. World history is never far away anywhere in Israel, and Jaffas St. Peters is no exception: a room at the church reportedly hosted Napoleon Bonaparte when he came to the city in 1799. (Israel Minister of Tourism)

St. Peters Church – Tiberias According to the Gospel, many people from Tiberias sailed to Capharnaum to meet Jesus. The ancient Christian tradition shows the presence of a large Judeo-Christian community there. Later tradition concentrated the memory of many evangelical episodes in Tiberias. Tiberias is the most important city of the sea of Galilee and it could already have been so in the time of Christ, as it was the residence of the tetrarch Herod Antipas. it was he who founded it and had given it the name of his protector and friend, the emperor Tiberius Caesar. In the Gospel according to John, boats that came from the city of Tiberias to the place of the multiplication of the loaves (John 6.23) are mentioned. The increased importance of the city is shown by the fact that the lake is called “Sea of Tiberias”. According to Epiphanius, Christianity became clearly established in Tiberias in the 4th century, when a convert from Judaism, Count Joseph, obtained permission from the emperor Constantine to build a church where the pagan temple of Adrian had stood. From him, we also know that in Tiberias (as in Nazareth and Capharnaum) there were Jews who believed in Christ and kept and spread the books of the New Testament translated into Hebrew.

Synagogue Church of Nazareth Precious little has come down to us of the years Jesus spent in Nazareth, leading scholars to describe this time, practically Jesus whole life, as “the silent years.” It is thus all the more significant for Christian visitors here to find a place where the silence is broken – the Synagogue Church. Tradition says this is the spot, one memorable Sabbath day, where Jesus stood to proclaim and preach the stirring words of Isaiah 61 (Luke 4:16-27) and where he endured an angry response (Luke 4:28-30). You will find the Synagogue Church just a few minutes walk into the Old Market. Christians have been coming here at least since the sixth century, and in 1771 the Greek Catholics received it into their care. In this unadorned stone chamber beneath fine old barrel arches, a quiet enclave awaits where you can delve into this complex story that so dramatically reflects the reality of its time and place. (Israel Minister of Tourism)

The Church of St. Mark St. Marks Church stands over the traditional site of the first Christian house of prayer in the Holy City of Jerusalem, and belongs to one of the most ancient Christian denominations in the Holy Land: the Syriac Orthodox. The sanctuary occupies a building some eight centuries old, which is above an even older structure. A tradition developed in antiquity that the event that many Christians mark on nearby Mount Zion – the first speaking in tongues (Acts 2:1) – took place at John Marks house (Acts 12:13). An inscription in the sanctuary dating to the sixth century, reads: “this is the house of Mary mother of John Mark.” It also says that the house was destroyed in 70 AD, but was rebuilt and used for prayer just two years later. The inscription is in Syriac, a language akin to the Aramaic that Jesus spoke, and that is still spoken by the community. (Israel Minister of Tourism)

The Russian Orthodox Tower and Church of the Ascension The Tower of the Ascension, high atop the Mount of Olives, can be seen for miles around in any direction, and marks the site where Jesus ascended to Heaven (Luke 24:50-51; Acts 1:9). It stands in the midst of a small grove of fir and olive trees on the top of the mountain just off the main road north of the Mount of Olives lookout. For many years, few Russian Christians visited this shrine built more than a century ago by the Russian Orthodox, but now they flock here once again. The paintings in one of the two small chapels, done by nuns a hundred years ago, have been lovingly restored. A garden plaza with a sweeping wilderness vista is a quiet gathering place. The six-storey tower, with a fabulous view of Jerusalem and the Judean Desert is open only on Ascension Day, 40 days after Easter. (Israel Minister of Tourism)

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