Pope Francis visit to Israel: Sites

Pope Francis visit to Israel: Sites

Visit to Israel of Pope Francis

During his stay in Israel, Pope Francis will visit various sites in the city of Jerusalem:

Sites to be visited by Pope Francis


Mount Scopus

Overlooking Jerusalem, Mount Scopus is the highest point in the city, rising 826 meters above sea level.  From the top of Mount Scopus, one can see the entire Old City, as well as the Judean Desert in the east. The mountain, called Har Ha'Tzofim (Mountain of the Watchers) in Hebrew, derives its name from its use as a vantage point and the spectacular view from its top.

The cornerstone for the university was set on July 24, 1918. Seven years later, on April 1, 1925, the Hebrew University campus on Mount Scopus was opened.

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre

The site of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem is identified as the place of both crucifixion and the tomb of Jesus of Nazareth. The church has long been a major pilgrimage center for Christians all around the world.

Construction of the first Church of the Holy Sepulcher began in 326 by order of the Emperor Constantine. It was erected on the site of a 2nd-century Roman temple that, according to local tradition, has been built over the place where Jesus had been crucified and buried. When the Roman buildings were demolished, a series of rock-cut tombs was discovered. One of these was identified as that of Joseph of Armithea. The sloping bedrock was cut away around this tomb, leaving a free-standing shell (at the site of the present Edicule). 

Little remains of the original Byzantine structure, which was burned and looted by the Persians in 614, partially rebuilt by the Patriarch Modestos, damaged by earthquake in 808, and  destroyed in 1009 by order of the Fatamid Caliph al-Hakim. A portion was rebuilt by the Byzantine Emperor Constantine Monomachus in 1048, but most of the present building is the result of 12th-century Crusader reconstruction as well as later renovations (the most recent begun in 1959). The present Church encompasses half the area of the original Byzantine shrine and basilica, and only the Rotunda preserves the approximate shape and design of the original.

The Church contains several shrines dedicated to the Virgin Mary. The building is held in condominium by the Greek Orthodox, the Roman Catholic and the Armenian Apostolic churches. The Syriac Orthodox, the Coptic Orthodox and the Ethiopian Orthodox also possess certain rights and small properties in or about the building, and all six denominations celebrate their rites in this cavernous house of worship. The rights and privileges of all of these communities are protected by the Status Quo of the Holy Places (1852), as guaranteed in Article LXII of the Treaty of Berlin (1878).

A visit to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher can begin by descending a flight of stairs whose walls are covered with crosses incised by hundreds of pilgrims over hundreds of years. Deep below ground level is the Armenian chapel, abutting a First Temple-period stone quarry where tradition says Queen Helene found the cross. The centerpiece of the main floor is the Edicule. Its icons and lanterns may be unfamiliar to some, but visitors often say they feel spiritually uplifted from the moments spent in the utter silence of the tiny interior room marking the traditional tomb.
Nearby is a stone slab where tradition says the body of Jesus was prepared for burial, and where one can see pious Orthodox and Catholic Christians praying fervently. Visitors are moved by the beautiful mosaic behind the stone, which shows with sadness and hope the moments when Jesus is taken down from the cross and laid in the tomb. Up a steep flight of stairs, the site of the crucifixion itself is marked by both a Greek Orthodox and a Catholic altar, where Christians from around the world stand patiently in line waiting to touch the rock they hold sacred.

 Notre Dame Cathedral

Jerusalem’s magnificent Pontifical Institute Notre Dame - "Our Lady" - is a towering French cathedral and guest house located across from the Old City’s New Gate, with a statue of the Virgin Mary on the rooftop. The complex was built in the 1880′s in order to increase the flow of pilgrims to Jerusalem, and was part of an area called the “French Compound”.

From its inception in 1888, the Notre Dame Center, owned by the Vatican, offered accommodation, spiritual assistance and tour guiding to pilgrims visiting the Holy Land. Over a century later, the 140 room Notre Dame Center, a venue rich with religious, historical and cultural interest, remains faithful to its original mission, offering a meeting place for pilgrims from all over the world and people of different faiths. This imposing complex sits on the seam between East and West Jerusalem and opposite the New Gate, a cosmopolitan fusion of faiths and peoples.

The Temple Mount

The Temple Mount was constructed by King Herod the Great. It encompassed Mount Moriah from the south, from the west and from the north with enormous supporting walls, "The Western Wall" being the most known of them.

The Temple Mount is one of the most important religious sites in the Old City of Jerusalem. It has been used as a religious site for thousands of years. The site is the most sacred site recognized by the Jewish faith, and is the third most sacred to Islam (Al-Aqsa Mosque).

The Western Wall
A remnant of the great retaining wall around the Temple Mount platform in Jerusalem, the Western Wall has been a place of Jewish prayer and devotion since the destruction of the Second Temple by the Romans in 70 CE.

The Western Wall was part of the most magnificent building Jerusalem had ever seen. It was one of four walls Herod the Great built to support the 1,555,000-square-foot plaza on which the Temple stood. It was almost 1,500 feet long – the rest can still be seen inside the Western Wall Tunnel. Originally it was some 90 feet high and reached some 60 feet into the ground.

It was Abraham who first linked the Jewish people to Jerusalem, when he offered Isaac in sacrifice on Mount Moriah, the Temple Mount, and now above and behind the wall. The rock of the offering, over which the Dome of the Rock was built in the late seventh century, is known in Jewish tradition as the Foundation Stone of the world. King David purchased this land; Solomon's First Temple was destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BCE; Herod expanded the Second Temple, which was burned by the Romans in 70 CE, except for the Western Wall.

In the Middle Ages, the Wall received another name – the Wailing Wall, as Jews were observed here lamenting the Temple's destruction. For 19 years, from 1948 until 1967, when Jerusalem was divided, Jews were separated from the Wall. But then, in the Six Day War, on June 7, 1967, Jerusalem was reunited. From then on, the Western Wall became not only a symbol of glories past, but of the love and devotion of the Jewish people for their Holy City now and forever.

A centuries-old tradition is to place prayers or requests on a small piece of paper between the cracks of the wall. Like the Jewish believers, many Christians from around the world visit the Western Wall and put their written prayers and requests into the wall.
Mount Herzl
Mount Herzl is found on the west side of Jerusalem beside Jerusalem Forest. It is the site of Israel's national cemetery where Israel's leaders are interred, and was named after the state visionary, Theodor Herzl. The site serves as a unique point of interest for learning about the history of Zionism and Israel's leaders.
Mt. Herzl contains several sites, among are Theodor Herzl's grave, The Herzl Museum, Mount of Remembrance, Helkat Gedolei Ha'Uma, and the National military cemetery.
Yad Vashem
Established as the Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Authority in 1953 by an act of the Knesset, Yad Vashem is entrusted with the task of commemorating, documenting, researching and educating about the Shoah of the six million Jews murdered by the Nazis and their collaborators.
In 1961, Yad Vashem inaugurated the Hall of Remembrance, the first Holocaust commemoration site established at Yad Vashem on the Mount of Remembrance. Engraved on the Hall's mosaic floor are the names of 22 of the most infamous Nazi murder sites, symbolic of the hundreds of extermination and concentration camps, transit camps and killing sites that existed throughout Europe.
The Eternal Flame, burning from a base fashioned like a broken bronze goblet, continuously illuminates the Hall, its smoke exiting the building through an opening at the highest point of the ceiling. Before it stands a stone crypt containing the ashes of Holocaust victims, brought to Israel from the extermination camps. A focal point of commemoration to this day, the Hall of Remembrance serves as Yad Vashem’s main site for memorial ceremonies.
Heichal Shlomo
As early as 1923 the Chief Rabbis of Israel, Abraham Kook and Jacob Meir, considered plans for a large central synagogue in Jerusalem. It was over 30 years later in 1958 when Heichal Shlomo, seat of the Israeli Rabbinate, was founded, when a small synagogue was established within the building.
Heichal Shlomo is located adjacent to the Great Synagogue on King George Street, Jerusalem. It was the former seat of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel.
The Renanim Synagogue, in Hechal Shlomo, is a small synagogue of singular beauty lavishly decorated in 18th century Italian style.
Heichal Shlomo houses the Wolfson Museum of Jewish Art, with a unique collection of Jewish ceremonial art.
Beit HaNassi (President's Residence)
Since 1971 Beit HaNassi has served as the official residence of the President of Israel. It is located in the Talbiya neighborhood of Jerusalem, Israel.
The current Residence of the President of the State of Israel was built during the term of President Zalman Shazar, the 3rd President. Shazar asked that the President's abode be built in the center of the city of Jerusalem, saying "Amongst my people I dwell." It was inaugurated in 1971 by President Shazar.
Adjacent to the building is the Garden which also serves to host functions, stretching over some two thirds of an acre. The flora of the garden also represents the flora of the Land of Israel and features olive, cypress, pine as well as other trees. In 2001 the synagogue at the President's Residence was inaugurated.
Gethsemane is a garden at the foot of the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem most famous as the place where, according to the gospels, Jesus is said to have prayed the night before his crucifixion.
According to the Eastern Orthodox Church tradition, Gethsemane is the garden where the Virgin Mary was buried and was assumed into heaven after her dormition on Mount Zion.

The Garden of Gethsemane became a focal site for Christian pilgrims. Ancient olive trees growing in the garden are said to be 900 years old. Today the ancient trees rise from manicured flower beds; in Jesus’ time this would have been an olive grove where an olive-oil press – gethsemane in Greek – was located.

The impressive Church of All Nations, built in the 1920s over earlier churches, relates the events of this place in brilliantly detailed floor-to ceiling mosaics: Jesus praying alone (Mark 14:35-36); Judas’ betrayal of Jesus (Matt. 26:48); the cutting off of the ear of the High Priest’s servant (Mark 14:47). This and Olivet’s other sites – the Pater Noster (“Our Father”) Church, named for the prayer Jesus taught (Matt. 6:9-13), the Dome of the Ascension, the Tower of the Ascension and Viri Galilaei (Acts 1:11) – stir powerful emotions that make this visit an unforgettable spiritual highlight.

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 Constantine's 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.
Mount Zion
One of the Old City’s eight gates, the Zion Gate, opens onto Mount Zion. Zion is one of the Bible’s earliest names for Jerusalem, mentioned when David first established the city (2 Sam. 5:7) as his capital. In fact, the ancient Tomb of David on Mount Zion has been a place of pilgrimage for centuries.

The Coenaculum or Cenacle, located on the second story of the building, is the traditional site of the Upper Room, where the Last Supper was held.

Across from it is the Dormition Abbey, built in 1898 by the German Benedictines, with a triangular roof that is a city landmark. This is the place where Catholic tradition marks the Assumption of Mary to Heaven.

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