Jerusalem, our destiny! After a week and a half of traveling, we finally made it and began our journey at the Mount of Olives with one of the Church of the Ascensions. We saw a rock where supposedly Jesus
stood before ascending into heaven. We then went to the Church of the Pater Noster, where we found the Our Father written in every language. We prayed the Our Father together and then walked down the path Jesus rode on Palm Sunday. We sang Hosanna as we descended down the mountain, making our way to the Garden of Gethsemane, where we found a 2,000 year old olive tree. We also touched the rock on which tradition says Jesus prayed against.
After the Garden of Gethsemane, we walked down the Kidron Valley to the Tomb of the Virgin Mary, singing Hail Mary, Gentle Woman as a group together at the altar, then back up into the Old City to begin the Via Dolorosa. We prayed and sang hymns as we made our way through the crowded market, understanding the crowds Jesus must have encountered on his Via Dolorosa. Along the way we were able to see the Pools of Bethesda, where Jesus healed the blind man on the Sabbath.
The Via Dolorosa ends at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. We finished the Stations of the Cross there and took a quick break for lunch in the Jewish quarter and a speedy nap in our hotels to give us energy for the evening. Back at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre around 5pm, we visited the various chapels and then celebrated Mass in a chapel, only accessible by walking through the common sacristy. We were thankful to have some space from the crowds and noise. Three pilgrims possibly even witnessed a miracle during Mass, seeing flames/red blood inside the Eucharist. We spent some time in silence after Mass and then walked up the stairs (literally up the stone rock) to Gethsemane. Many knelt under the altar to reach down and touch the stone on which Jesus was crucified. Unable to reach the grave (the line was too long!), we decided to come back for the grave on our final day here, our free day.
Back at our hotel outside Damascus Gate, we had a tasty dinner (finally, some lumpia!) and got to bed early so that we could rest up for a busy day in Jerusalem tomorrow!