The Sanctuary of Jesus Weeping Over Jerusalem
The Mount of Olives is rich in biblical and Christian memory. Jesus’ weeping and mourning over the holy city is commemorated in this sanctuary from the medieval period.
Mount of Olives
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"City of God, how pleasant it is to gaze at your beautiful Mount of Olives!" wrote the patriarch of Jerusalem, Sophron (634-638). The ancient church considered Jesus’ discourse on the end of Jerusalem and the world (Mt. 24; Mc 13; Lk 21) to be the revelation of the mysteries of salvation to the apostles and his closest friends. The liturgical celebration of these mysteries was first in a grotto near the summit of the mountain and later in a basilica commissioned by the Emperor Constantine (Eusebius of Caesarea, early 4th century). The celebration took place on Tuesday of Holy Week: "Everyone went to the church on the Mount of Eleona (of Olives) at night. Arriving at the church, the bishop enters the grotto where the Lord had the habit of instructing his disciples. He takes up the book of the Gospels and, standing, the bishop reads the words of the Lord..." (Egeria, end of 4th century). During the Crusader period (12th century) the same church commemorated the instruction of the Lord’s Prayer, the Our Father. Very badly damaged ruins from this building came to light in 1910, not far from the enclosure of the Ascension.
Mention of the Dominus Flevit sanctuary located halfway up the mountain appears for the first time around the end of the 13th century - beginning of the 14th, and can be considered as having been handed down from ancient Christian memory. This was indicated at the time by a certain stone placed in a field. In the 16th century this reference point became a mosque known as el-Mansuriyyeh (recently rebuilt) located on the northern side of the Franciscan property.
Important archaeological discoveries (by Father B. Bagatti and J.T. Milik, 1953-54) were made on the property belonging to the Custody of the Holy Land. Tombs from Canaanite Jerusalem (16th to 14th century BC), Jewish tombs from the time of Christ (first century BC - first century AD, along with others from a later period (2nd-3rd century), and a monastery from the Byzanto-Arabic period (7th-8th century AD) were found. Numerous sarcophagi and ossuaries were found in the Jewish tombs, some of them bearing inscriptions or symbols indicating a possible Judeo-Christian origin. Over the ruins of the ancient monastery’s church the sanctuary was built (A. Barluzzi, 1956).
1. Byzantine monastery.
2. An extensive Jerusalem necropolis.
3. Tomb in which was found an ossuary with a Constantinian monogram.
4. Tomb in which were found 16 silver shekels (coined during the First Revolt in 68-70 AD).
A stone ossuary from the Roman period was found in the rupestral tomb of Dominus Flevit.
Jesus weeps over Jerusalem
As he drew near, he saw the city and wept over it, saying, "If this day you only knew what makes for peace - but now it is hidden from your eyes. For the days are coming upon you when your enemies will raise a palisade against you; they will encircle you and hem you in on all sides. They will smash you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave one stone upon another within you because you did not recognize the time of your visitation." (Luke 19:41-44)
The Lament over Jerusalem
At that time some Pharisees came to him and said, "Go away, leave this area because Herod wants to kill you." He replied, "Go and tell that fox, ‘Behold, I cast out demons and I perform healings today and tomorrow, and on the third day I accomplish my purpose. Yet I must continue on my way today, tomorrow, and the following day, for it is impossible that a prophet should die outside of Jerusalem.’ "Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how many times I yearned to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were unwilling! Behold, your house will be abandoned. (But) I tell you, you will not see me until (the time comes when) you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’" (Luke 13:31-35)
Anyone listening to these words might say that their meaning is obvious; they were fulfilled in what happened to Jerusalem: The Roman army laid siege to it and sacked it to the point of destruction until the time came that stone did not remain upon stone. I do not deny that Jerusalem was destroyed because of the sins of its inhabitants, but I ask myself if these tears are not also for our Jerusalem. We, in fact, are the Jerusalem that Jesus was mourning, we who think we have the highest knowledge of the Mysteries. If, after knowing the mysteries of Truth and after hearing the words of the Gospel and the teachings of the Church, and after delighting in the vision of the mysteries of God, one of us should sin, Jesus mourns and weeps over him. For it is not over the pagans that he weeps, but over those who, having belonged to Jerusalem, have ceased to be part of it.
Guide. Our merciful God does not stop visiting his people and inviting them to conversion. Let us pray to him for the Church, for this city and for the whole world
All. Hear us, O Lord.
1. For the holy Church, always in need of purification, that the lament of Jesus might provoke intentions and acts of true conversion. Let us pray:
2. For peoples afflicted by war and social injustice, that they might be comforted with international solidarity and that prophets of peace and reconciliation might rise up among them. Let us pray:
3. For the inhabitants of Jerusalem, that they might know how to understand the vocation of this city in the history of salvation. Let us pray:
4. For us and for all Holy Land pilgrims, that the Spirit might make us capable of recognizing the visit of the Lord in our own lives and the life of the Church and the world. Let us pray:
5. For those who are at the end of their terrestrial pilgrimage and for all the dead in the cemeteries of the Mount Olives, that they might have a part in the Heavenly Jerusalem. Let us pray:
Guide. O God great and merciful, reveal to us the tenderness of your love, turn us definitively to you and let us know and accept that which will increase our peace. Through Christ Our Lord. All. Amen.