During his historic pilgrimage to the Holy Land (May 25-26, 2014), Pope Francis will visit many of the most sacred sites and meaningful landmarks in and around the holy city of Jerusalem: Church of the Holy Sepulcher, Via Dolorosa, Mount of Olives, Mount Zion and the Cenacle, the Pontifical Institute Notre Dame Center, Yad Vashem, Mount Herzl, Heichal Shlomo and the Western Wall.
May 25, 2014
The Church of the Holy Sepulcher (7:00 p.m.)
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, was built over the place where Jesus had been crucified and buried.
Nearby is a stone slab where tradition says the body of Jesus was prepared for burial. 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.
Church of the Holy Sepulcher
The Via Dolorosa (7:00 p.m.)
The Church of the Holy Sepulcher contains the traditional sites of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, according to the Catholic and Orthodox Churches. The Via Dolorosa marks the devotional route that commemorates events as Jesus carried the cross from the place of condemnation by Pontius Pilate to his place of execution at Golgotha (Calvary).
May 26, 2014
Western Wall (9:10 a.m.)
A remnant of the great retaining wall around the Temple Mount platform, the Western Wall [Heb., ha-Kotel ha-Ma'aravi], has been a place of Jewish prayer and devotion since the destruction of the Second Temple by the Romans in 70 CE.A centuries old tradition is to write prayers or requests on small pieces of paper and place them between the cracks of the wall.
Mount Herzl (9:45 a.m.)
Mount Herzl, the State of Israel’s national cemetery, is named after the state visionary, Binyamin Ze'ev (Theodor) Herzl, whose remains were moved there in 1949. Herzl's tomb lies on the crest of the mountain range overlooking the Judean Hills on the side, and both old and new Jerusalem on the other.
Yad Vashem (10:00 a.m.)
Located on the Mount of Remembrance in Jerusalem, Yad Vashem is dedicated to commemorating, documenting, researching and educating people about the Holocaust and the six million Jews murdered by the German Nazis and their collaborators, the destroyed Jewish communities, the ghetto and resistance fighters, and the Righteous Among the Nations who risked their lives to rescue Jews during the Holocaust.
Heichal Shlomo (10:45 a.m.)
Heichal Shlomo, a landmark building in the heart of Jerusalem, was built in 1958 in order to serve as the spiritual and religious center for the Jewish people and the Chief Rabbinate.
The Pontifical Institute of Notre Dame of Jerusalem Center (1:30 p.m.)
Since its inception in 1888, the Pontifical Institute Notre Dame Center in Jerusalem has offered accommodation, spiritual assistance and tour guiding to pilgrims visiting the Holy Land. The imposing complex sits on the seam between East and West Jerusalem and opposite the New Gate, a cosmopolitan fusion of faiths and peoples, where English is the common language.
The Mount of Olives (3:30 p.m.)
Located east of Jerusalem’s Old City, the Mount of Olives is one of the most prominent sites in the Jerusalem vicinity mentioned in the Holy Scriptures. The view from the Mount of Olives is breathtaking: the walled city of Jerusalem embraced by the Hinnom and Kidron valleys, the Golden Gate to Mount Moriah, the Temple Mount, Mount Zion, City of David and more, bring both prophecy and Psalms to life.
View from Mount of Olives
The visit of Pope Francis to the Mount of Olives will include the following sites:
The little-known Greek Orthodox Church of Viri Galilaei on the Mount of Olives took its name from the first words that “two men dressed in white” said to the disciples as Jesus ascended to heaven: ’Men of Galilee,’ [viri galilaei in Latin] they said, ‘why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way...’(Acts 1:11).
Dominus Flevit (meaning "The Lord Wept") is a beautiful teardrop chapel, with an extraordinary view, built in 1955 over the site of a Byzantine construction. It commemorates the occasion of Jesus looking at the city of Jerusalem and weeping bitterly, when realizing that it was going to destroy itself by violence.
Garden of Gethsemane and Church of All Nations
The Palm Sunday walk, which begins at Bethphage, culminates in the Garden of Gethsemane. The gnarled olive trees could have been young saplings when Jesus came here with the disciples on that fateful night after the Last Supper (Matt. 26:36; Mark 14:32; John 18:1). 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.
Mount Zion and the Room of the Cenacle (5:20 p.m.)
The significance of Mount Zion, just south of Jerusalem’s Old City walls, begins with its name: 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.
In another part of this ancient complex is the Upper Room, where Christian tradition marks the Last Supper (Matt. 26:18–35) and the events of Pentecost (Acts 2:1–4).