In Jerusalem A


Holy Monastery of Saint Nicodemus or Saint Peter’s Prison

Near the Holy Monastery of the Praetorion and after the stone-paved path towards the north-east side there is a Holy Monastery in honour of Saint Nicodemus. The monastery is built over the ruins of Simon the Pharisee’s house. Christ was hosted in that house and spoke with Nicodemus who was a secret disciple of His. Nicodemus together with Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilatus to give them the body of Christ for burial after the Sacrifice on the Cross. In a basement under the Holy Church there is Saint Peter’s prison from which he was miraculously freed by an angel. The Holy Monastery is more known as the Monastery of the lentils, because it was used as a place to cook lentils for the workers who were building the Church of the Resurrection. In fact, the big cauldron, the cauldron of Saint Helen, is still kept there.

Holy Monastery of Praetorion

It is near the Monastery of the lentils and it served as a court at the time of Christ, the Roman Headquarters and the Roman governor Pilatus’ house.  Christ was taken there after he had been seen by Anna and Caiaphas to be judged, and began his martyrdom with the scourging, the scarlet robe, the reed, the mocking and the crown made of thorns (Matthew 27). In the Praetorion area there are Barabbas and the other thieves, and Christ’s jail rooms, as well as Saint Helen’s water tank which was used as the aqueduct of the prison. The Royal Hours on Good Friday are read here. Today’s Praetorion is an 18th century building and belongs to the Orthodox Church.

Holy Monastery of Saints Joachim and Anna

The Holy Monastery of Saints Joachim and Anna, the Theotokos’ parents, is located near the pool of Bethesda and the Gate of Gethsemane. The Saints’ housed used to be there. There are caves under the Church where according to the tradition Anna was praying to God for a child. God heard her prayer and Theotokos was born. There is another cave under the place where Theotokos was born in which Joachim and Anna were temporarily buried. Later on their relics were moved to Gethsemane where Theotokos’ tomb is.

The Pool of Bethesda

Between the Praetorion and the Holy Monastery of Saints Joachim and Anna there is the Pool of Bethesda. There, the Lord healed the paralyzed man who had been waiting at the walkways of the pool for thirty eight years without any person’s help when the Angel would come down to “stir the waters”. According to the Gospel, the first man to step into the pool with the stirred water was healed. In the middle of the 5th century the place was acknowledged as a pilgrim site and a Basilica was built there in honour of the Theotokos. At the time of the Crusaders, a new church was built over the ruins of the former Basilica, dedicated to Saint Anna, and it is still preserved to this day.

The Holy Monastery of Saint Stephen

Saint Stephen was the first Christian martyr as he was stoned to death for his belief in Christ, and the Christians buried him in his hometown Gamala. The Church has canonized him as the first-martyr Saint. The place of his martyrdom is outside the walls of Jerusalem. His tomb was discovered in the 5th century and his relics were transferred to Zion in Jerusalem, while later, Patriarch Iouvenalios took his relics to Gethsemane garden and built a church in his honour. At the time of Emperor Theodosius in the 5th century, an impressive Basilica was built at the site of his stoning which was later destroyed. Nowadays, the place in Gethsemane where Patriarch Iouvenalios built the church is a Holy Shrine for the Orthodox Christians.

The Holy Monastery of Saint Spyridon

The monastery of Saint Spyridon is located near the Arab market and the Damascus Gate. In the monastery there is an icon of the Saint which was miraculously depicted on glass, a stone with the Saint’s footprint and a piece of his shoe which the Bishop of Corfu Athanasius offered as a present to the monastery in 1886. Among other things in the monastery there is also a stone on which Christ stepped when at his twelfth year of age he started preaching in Solomon’s Temple.

The Path of the Martyrdom (Via Dolorosa)

This is the Path of the Martyrdom, the path of pain, the way the Lord followed carrying his Cross, coming to his Passion willingly. Before this Path all mankind bows down. The guided tour on Via Dolorosa has the following 14 stops;

  1.  Praetorion:  Here,Jesus is condemned to be crucified. The Greek Orthodox pilgrims begin their course at the Monastery of the Praetorion while the Latin Christians at the yard of Omar’s College.
  2.  Praetorion: Jesus takes up his Cross.
  3.  Corner at Al-Wad Street. The first fall of Christ under the burden of the Cross.
  4.  Armenian chapel. Jesus meets his mother. An engraved representation of this meeting is depicted over the entrance of this Armenian chapel.
  5. Simon the Cyrene’s house. The house of the man who was enforced to carry Christ’s Cross. According to the tradition, Christ’s palm is imprinted on one stone He touched on the wall as He fell under the weight of the Cross.
  6. Saint Veronica’s house. In that place Saint Veronica wiped Christ’s sweaty, bleeding face and His divine sight was imprinted on the cloth (known as Sacred Mandylion).
  7. The Gate of Condemnation – Latin chapel. This gate stands probably over ancient ruins of the wall of Jerusalem. Christ fell for the second time under the weight of the Cross here.
  8. Christ offers consolation to the young maidens of Jerusalem. “But Jesus turning unto them said, Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children. For, behold, the days are coming, in which they shall say, Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bare, and the breasts which never gave suck” (Luke 23:28-29).
  9. The third fall of Christ. According to the medieval tradition it happened near the entrance of the Church of the Resurrection.
  10. East side of the Temple yard – Armenian-Syrian chapel. Jesus is denuded in order to begin the process of His Crucifixion and death.
  11. Golgotha – Latin chapel. Jesus is placed on the Cross.
  12. Golgotha – Greek Orthodox chapel. The site of Christ’s Crucifixion and death.
  13. Holy Deposition (Apokathelosis). Joseph of Arimathea removed Christ’s body from the Cross,   and having washed Him clean with perfumes brought by Nicodemus they wrapped Him in linen strips and prepared His body for burial.
  14. The Holy Sepulchre. Joseph and Nicodemus buried Jesus in Joseph’s unused tomb, which was carved in the rock and was located at a short distance from the Crucifixion site.

The Holy Monastery of Abraham

The Holy Monastery of Abraham is placed on the east side of the Holy Yard. The Templar Hagiotaphite Fathers who serve the Holy Church of the Resurrection live there, together with the Keeper of the Holy Vessels of the Sepulchre. Inside the monastery there are Saint Helen’s water tank and the Holy Church of the Apostles Peter and Paul. According to the tradition, there is an olive tree on the west side of the Church wall, in which was fastened the ram that Abraham was ordered to sacrifice instead of Isaac.

The Holy Monastery of Saint Charalambos

The monastery is located on Via Dolorosa. This is the place of the last stop Christ made before He reached Golgotha. The condemning act of Pilatus’ decision for the death penalty of Christ is found in this monastery.

The Holy Monastery of Saint John the Baptist

The most significant finding in this monastery is the ancient underground three-aisled church which is the oldest of this architecture style, a style that was later on used in the construction of the Bethlehem Basilica and other churches. The monastery is located in the old market near the Church of the Resurrection. The Dominican Fathers’ research, date the foundation of the monastery between the years 450-460, by the Empress Eudokia. The Narthex is thought to be constructed at the time of Patriarch Modestos. Saint John’s chapel is mentioned in 614 as the Monastery of Saint John the Baptist, where 4214 people were slaughtered and the building was demolished. It was later rebuilt by Patriarch Modestos. The church was reconstructed in the 11th century by the Byzantine Emperors. The monastery was occupied by the Crusaders who used it also as a hospital. After the Crusaders’ expatriation, it was returned to the Patriarchate but the political situation at the time favoured the Georgians to receive the monastery. The monastery holders did not allow any rebuilding to take place, though they made some amendments with dry stones. In the decrees by Sultans Selim and Suleiman the Holy Monastery is recognized as Greek property. The church was decorated with marble floors and the temple was made with undecaying wood. All work was done by Cyril, Bishop of Lydda and Patriarchal Commissioner. It was then that the underground church was discovered. Among the holy items and the miraculous icons, the relics of Saint Panayiotis are also kept in the monastery.

The Holy Monastery of Saint Nikolaos

The Georgian Sovereign Lady Elizabeth visited Jerusalem in mid 17th century and reconstructed the Holy Monastery of Saint Nikolaos. The Bishop of Nazareth Gabriel writes that Georgian people lived in the monastery in 1651. In 1681, Patriarch Dositheos sent a letter to the Georgians writing that the Franks wanted to buy the monastery. From the letters of Neophytos the Cyprian we learn that in 1826 the Arab school of the Patriarchate was in that monastery. At the time of Cyril ii, the letterpress work was done there. The front wall of the monastery is made of big stones with Georgian inscriptions.

The Holy Monastery of Saints Theodores

The Holy Monastery of Saints Theodores is located near the Holy Monastery of Saint Nikolaos and the Latin Casa Nova. It had been used as an additional guesthouse for the Holy Sepulchre pilgrims. There is a miraculous icon of Saint Theodore Stratelates there, as well as a chapel dedicated to Saint Spyridon with a very old icon of the Saint. Archimandrite Veniamin writes in 1877 that Russian women pilgrims used to be hosted in this monastery.

The Patriarch of Jerusalem Ioannis iii (516-524) founded a church dedicated to Saints Theodores in Jerusalem. The Latin Patriarchate believes the church was built by the Patriarch of Alexandria Ioannis the Merciful. In Saint Savvas’ life it is mentioned that Deacon Romylos the silver-cutter used almost 100 measurements of silver and made the lights in the church of Saint Theodore and was asking for help. Romylos was also a Deacon in Gethsemane. The silver-cutters showed great reverence for this church and celebrated there the finding of the Chalice of the Last Supper on 3rd July every year.

The Holy Monastery of Saint George – hospital

The Holy monastery of Saint George is located near the Latin monastery. Patriarch Chrysanthos received a generous donation from Nikolaos Kara Ioannis in 1729 and decided to use the necessary amount from it in order to found a hospital for the needs of the Fathers and the pilgrims in the premises of the monastery of Saint George.