14 April 2016
holy saturday + easter sabbath + the ramparts walk
on saturday morning, we woke up early and went to the church of the holy sepulcher for the easter vigil that was being held there. everything was in latin so we weren’t entirely sure what was going on! but it was interesting to observe different customs and good to gather with other christians to consider the light of christ’s resurrection. after the procession, everyone in the church was given a candle. a priest lit a first candle inside the holy sepulcher and then the fire was passed through the crowd until all the candles were lit.
because we had some time after the vigil before our church meetings at the jerusalem center (mormons meet on saturdays instead of sundays in the holy land), we walked to the church of st. peter in gallicantu. this place commemorates peter’s denial of christ, has unique sweeping views over east jerusalem and up towards the temple mount and the mount of olives, and is built over some ancient chambers that some believe to be the prison where christ was held before his crucifixion.
our church meetings at the jersualem center were just divine. it was so special for me to be back at an inspired meeting in that glorious upper auditorium with that familiar, amazing view of the old city. beautiful thoughts about the resurrection were shared, we all triumphantly sang together “he is risen” and “i know that my redeemer lives,” and the spirit of god was thick in the air. we met some wonderful fellow mormons (some residents of jerusalem and some travelers like us – the byu students were out of town) and after the meetings got to spend some time on the terrace and the eighth floor balcony (my favourite spot in the building). we also were invited to the branch “munch and mingle” potluck in the oasis cafeteria, where i ate all my meals as a student at the jersualem center. so fun to be back there!
after, we walked this awesome path we found down the mount of olives, across the kidron valley and back up the hill to the old city to complete the ramparts walk along the city walls (more on that below). we turned around once we’d hiked up the slope on the other side of the valley and had a fantastic view of the jerusalem center on the hill.
it starting raining, pretty hard, while we were walking the city walls. there are a few churches on top of the mount of olives that we were wanting to see, so we grabbed a taxi to ascend back up the hill. the weather worsened and worsened and it was pretty funny trying to navigate between the points of interest in the blowing, pouring rain. we made it to the chapel of the ascension (on the left) and the church of the pater noster, which stands on the traditional site of christ’s teaching of the lord’s prayer. we tried to take in as much as we could while staying relatively dry – it was an adventure!
we ended our sabbath day warming up/drying off back at our airbnb and getting some hot food at the nearby market.
^^ at pater noster, there are plaques with the lord’s prayer in every language imaginable (many i’ve never heard of!) ^^
i also wanted to share in this post (i’m realizing these holy land posts could drag on forrrrever if i don’t combine some things!) our experience doing the “ramparts walk” – walking around the tops of the walls of the old city. the ramparts walk has two parts and we did one half on friday and one half on saturday after church. walking the walls offers a unique perspective of the city and we really enjoyed this experience. the highlight was being on top of damascus gate.
^^ can you spot the jerusalem center in the distance? ^^
^^ on friday we encountered a group of jews reading the torah out loud from the openings along the city walls (you can see them peering out the different openings above). all of them were reading loudly and with a lot of passion. ^^
^^ on saturday we were glad to have an umbrella and a raincoat as we walked the second half of the walls! neat to look down on all the windy streets of the muslim quarter packed with homes and shops. ^^
^^ ian actually requested i hold the baby in this photo – haha! ^^
^^ a view of golgatha from the city walls. kind of wild to think that this is a likely location of christ’s crucifixion, yet today it’s just in the middle of a busy neighborhood and bustling bus station! ^^
^^ you can definitely spot the jerusalem center in this photo. but can you spot me? :) ^^
^^ overlooking a colourful east jerusalem market on a rainy day. ^^
next up: easter in jerusalem! ian and i agreed on that day being one of the top five of our entire lives. to be continued…