This image is from Dormition Abbey, a Benedictine monastery at the edge of Old Jerusalem.
Tomorrow, Saturday, in the Catholic faith marks the celebration of the feast of the Assumption of Our Lady.
For those who are curious, this is one item of faith that is in our catechism that is left somewhat open ended. Doctrine has it that Mary was assumed into heaven. However it may have occurred near Ephesus in Turkey or it may have occurred in Jerusalem.
The Abbey itself is only about 100 years old and is built on the site of the ruins of a Byzantine Abbey (also dedicated to Mary). Under THAT is said to the ruins of the Cenacle – the room where the Last Supper was celebrated.
In Jerusalem there are a number of places that scholars and archeologists argue over about the exact positioning of certain events. Given that Old Jerusalem takes up only 1/3 of a square mile, one thing that can’t be denied is that there is no other place on earth that contains so much foundational history of Christianity, Judaism & Islam.
The Old City is slow to awake but shopkeepers are stirring. Small habits illuminate their humanness.
At first I thought this was a ‘one of’ thing but as we explored the city I came to hear the twittering of more than just a few caged birds. This man told me his finch-like bird was a cross between a canary and a finch and would sing all day. Fitting street for a bird.
We came across a queue of pilgrims with a number of army personnel as escort. What we weren’t aware of until a couple weeks before our trip was that the Orthodox Catholic calendar differs from the Roman Catholic one. Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter were all taking place during our time there and coincided with much of Passover.
As we would discover pilgrims define this city all throughout the year and these fez-topped men were part of the same line of pilgrims as in the top image. This procession of men and women were headed to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre for a Good Friday observance.
Amid the strings of their Tau cross flags was a sober reminder of Christ’s crucifixion and of the Holy Week taking place in the Old City.
The offshoots of the Catholic church are bewildering even to this Roman Catholic. The pilgrims we witnessed were probably from the Syriac Orthodox Church not to be confused with the Syriac Catholic Church!) and these are a few of their distinctively garbed priests. And then again they could have been Greek Orthodox!