Earlier this week we had a field trip through the Christian quarter of Jerusalem.
I had already been to most of the sites they took us to, but it was great to go through them with our brilliant professors who could explain all of the details about the places to us.
Our first stop of the day was the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. I loved this stop, even though I had been there the day before. Brother Emmett stressed to us how important this site is to so many people and how even though most members of the church disregard it, that it could very well be THE place.
This spot in the Greek Orthodox chapel is where they believe the center of the earth lies
Another interesting thing Brother Emmett taught us was how much rivalry exists between the different Christian denominations who claim ownership to this site. Historically, there are have full on brawls and fights between monks and different priests inside the church over issues on how the building should operate. To try and avoid this as much as possible, the building is divided up into tons of different chapels and niches, which were each alloted to specific denomination hundreds of years ago. However, the ownership of many of these places is still contested and continues to be a huge issue.
In fact, no one is allowed to change anything or even clean or perform maintenance in certain areas of the church, because doing so apparently implies ownership. As a result, these places have fallen into disrepair.
It really is a shame that this has occurred in such a beautiful church, all because fellow Christians cannot get along.
This ladder has remained outside of the church for over 150 years because no one can agree on who has the right to move it
A shrine which has become so dirty it is unrecognizable
You cannot really see it in this picture, but many of the pillars are filthy from the layers and layers of built up soot.
Next, we went to the nearby Lutheran Church. This church makes it very clear that it does not mark any whole spot or event, but it is still extremely beautiful and offers an amazing view of the city. We stopped inside the chapel and sang some Lutheran hymns-including my favorite "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing".
After the Lutheran church we went to St. Mark's House, which is the probable site for the Upper Room where Christ held the Last Supper. Before we descended down to the Upper Room-that did not make sense to me at first either-the woman who watches over the room and chapel above us gave us an overview of the location. She had the most memorable/hilarious voice and accent I have heard in my entire life haha I cannot even describe it. It was really interesting to hear her describe all the different miracles she had witnessed and personally performed in front of the icon of Mary they have there. We weren't sure if we quite believed everything she was saying, but we certainly loved listening to her talk!
inside the Upper Room
Our last stop of the day was the Church of St. Alexander Nevsky. This church was one place I had never been before and was really pretty. One of its coolest features is that is has the remnants of one of the ancient gates into Jerusalem, a gate that Christ certainly would have passed through at some point. My favorite part of this gate was the small opening on the side of the gate which was referred to as the "eye of the needle". This is what Christ very well could have been referring to in the famous scripture.
This church required all women to wear skirts. I luckily came prepared, but Katie and Karlee were forced to use the lovely and oh-so-fashionable skirts the church provided :)
The eye of the needle! I tried and passed through just fine-so I should be good, right?