My final afternoon in Jerusalem I took an afternoon walk. I felt an overwhelming attraction to visit the Church of the Holy Sepulchre again. On the way I saw some of the gates in the walls of the Old City.
The Monastery of Saint Gerasimus was founded in the 5th century near the cave of Saint Gerasimus, who participated in the Council of Chalcedon. it was destroyed by the Persians in 614, and rebuilt by the Crusaders; restored in the 12th century; rebuilt in 1588; destroyed around 1734, and reestablished around 1885.
Although Saint Gerasimus was born in Lycia in southern Turkey his monastic quest led him from Turkey to the monastic establishments of Egypt and then on to Palestine near the river Jordan, where he established a monastery near the Jordan River near Jericho. His feast is March 5 in the West and March 4 in the East, as he is venerated in both West and East. One charming story in his hagiography is that he pulled a thorn out of the paw of a lion, which is commemorated in the mosaic work in the church. It is one of many beautiful mosaics in the monastic establishment.
A beautiful Tau cross in a geometric circle. Saint Anthony of the 3rd century and one of the first Christian monks used a crutch in the shape of a Tau. When he visited another monk, he would place the cross outside the cave as a symbol of communion of God.
“This fortress, which is some sixty stadia distant from Jerusalem, is naturally strong and very suitable for such a structure, for reasonably nearby is a hill, raised to a (greater) height by the hand of man and rounded off in the shape of a breast. At intervals it has round towers, and it has a steep ascent formed of two hundred steps of hewn stone. Within it are costly royal apartments made for security and for ornament at the same time. At the base of the hill there are pleasure grounds built in such a way as to be worth seeing, among other things because of the way in which water, which is lacking in that place, is brought in from a distance and at great expense. The surrounding plain was built up as a city second to none, with the hill serving as an acropolis for the other dwellings.”
From the height of the elevation there is a commanding view of the surrounding territory. It is an ideal location for a fortress.
Herod, who slaughtered the innocents of Bethlehem, was such a man of violence that the Emperor Augustus said “It is better to be Herod’s pig than son.” His escalating paranoia led him to kill his wife, and two of his sons.
The Herodium, built by King Herod the Great during the last three decades before the Birth of Christ, was a complex of palaces, entertainment and administrative structures, a fortress and a royal town. This is a view from the Herodium peering down to the lower Herodium which at one time was a magnificent area where King Herod would host distinguished guests.
Today the site is under intense archaeological excavation to identify structures of the Upper Herodium. Notice the remains of pillars in the lower left hand corner that outlines the oblong space that one can see in the reconstructed model.
Miqveh. Jewish ritual based of purification from the time of the Great Revolt of Bar Kokhba.
This is the chapel in the town of Magdala where Mary Magdalen lived. Here we celebrated the third Sunday of Easter when Jesus beckons his apostles to have breakfast with him.
We concluded our day with a sail on the Sea of Galilee.
We arrived at the ruins of Caesarea Philippi where Jesus declared “the rock.”
Jesus saith to them: But whom do you say that I am? Simon Peter answered and said: Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answering, said to him: Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jona: because flesh and blood hath not revealed it to thee, but my Father who is in heaven. And I say to thee: That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. ~ Matthew 16:15-18
The cave is the temple of Pan.
And Deborah said to Barak, “Up! For this is the day in which the Lord has given Sisera into your hand. Does not the Lord go out before you?” So Barak went down from Mount Tabor with ten thousand men following him. And the Lord routed Sisera and all his chariots and all his army before Barak at the edge of the sword; and Sisera alighted from his chariot and fled away on foot. And Barak pursued the chariots and the army to Haroshethhagoiim, and all the army of Sisera fell by the edge of the sword; not a man was left. ~ Judges 4:14-16
The fourth century synagogue in Capernaum was built over the first century synagogue where Jesus preached.
The impressive rear wall of the synagogue.
Capernaum figured largely in Jesus’ ministry.
Under the glass floor of the modern church are the excavations of a fifth century church and also a fourth century synagogue, and under that was a first century house church, called the “House of Peter,” where there were discovered hundreds of Christian inscriptions in Aramaic, Greek and Hebrew saying Jesus, Lord, and Peter.