The Garden of Gethsemane in the Holy Land


Gethsemane
is the name of the garden, as written in the New Testament, where Jesus prayed last before His arrest (Mark 14:32-42) From the Scriptures we read; Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, "Sit here while I go over there and pray." He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, "My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me." Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will." Matthew 26:36-39.

The Mount of Olives, located to the east of Jerusalem, separates the Holy City from the Judean Desert which from there it begins its descent to the Dead Sea. The Kidron Valley, which surrounds Jerusalem to the east, separates the Mount of Olives from the city and from the nearby Mount Zion, located to the south, from where Jesus set off on foot after the Last Supper, crossing the Valley to reach Gethsemane. The garden is located at the entrance of the property of the sanctuary of Gethsemane, occupying an area of ​​approximately 1,200 square meters and protected by a fence that allows holy land visitors to walk around the ancient olive trees.

Adjacent to the garden is the Basilica of the Agony also known as the Church of all Nations, a Roman Catholic Church that enshrines a section of the bedrock where is believed Jesus prayed before his arrest. The Basilica of Agony which stands today was constructed from 1919-24 with support from 12 different nations, thus the name “the Church of All Nations.” The church has a rich history including being built on the foundation of two ancient churches including a 4th century Byzantine basilica which was destroyed by en earthquake in 746, and atop a 12th-century chapel built by the Crusaders, and later abandoned in 1345.

Jesus’ prayer in the garden of Gethsemane is commemorated yearly on Holy Thursday, after the Last Supper. The word Gethsemane translates to “oil press” referring to olive oil due to the many olive trees in the area. Today Holy Land tour visitors are amazed to see olive trees dating back to the time Jesus’ walk in the Land of the Bible.

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