With Easter behind them, Catholics worldwide are preparing for Pentecost, commemorating the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles (Acts 2, 1-4). In Jerusalem the feast is celebrated at Hagia Maria Sion Abbey on Mount Zion. Its unique blue conical roof, four ornamented towers and landmark clock tower make it an architectural gem. The basilica is a German Benedictine church completed in 1910 and built over the ruins of a Byzantine church, the Hagia Sion basilica and a 12th century Crusader church - Santa Maria in Monte Sion.
Adjacent to the church is the Upper Room, the Cenacle, where Jesus celebrated the Last Supper. The former name of the church, Abbey of the Dormition, venerates the Blessed Virgin Mary “falling asleep” at the site.
The High Mass of Pentecost is celebrated by the Latin Patriarch H.B. Msgr. Fouad Twal in the Church of the Dormition. The Franciscans celebrate the Solemn Mass with Rev. Fr. Pierbattista Pizzaballa, OFM in Saint Savior’s Church. The Mass is followed by a procession from Saint Savior’s to the Cenacle, where the solemn vespers are then recited.
The extended celebration of Mass reflects the intense unrelenting prayer of the Christian community in imitation of the Apostles united in prayer with the Mother of Jesus. His Holiness John Paul II once described the mystery of Pentecost as “a continued sign of the presence of the Holy Spirit in the Church and arouses faith, hope and charity in the hearts of the faithful.”