It was the eve of the Jewish feast of the Passover, or Unleavened Bread, and Jesus and the disciples retired to an upper room to partake of the traditional Passover celebration. During this meal Jesus washed the feet of the disciples and foretold the coming betrayal.
But perhaps of most significance, this was the occasion for Jesus to transform the traditional blessings over bread and wine into Holy Communion – a momentous event marked by all four Gospels.
The site of the Cenacle on Mount Zion soon became a meeting place for the first Christians. Early pilgrims reported all manner of things connected to the life of Jesus that were kept in the great Basilica of Hagia Zion erected over the original chapel: the horn used for anointing the Kings David and Solomon, the column of the Flagellation, the Crown of Thorns and the Lance that pierced Christ’s side.
The structure now carrying the name of the Room of the Last Supper was built by the Franciscans in the 14th century. With firm columns and delicately pointed Gothic arched it was erected over earlier Byzantine and Crusader buildings. A flight of 30 steps leads up to where it formed an “upper room” in the southern wing of the Church of St. Mary of Zion. It was decorated with mosaics depicting both the Eucharist and the Descent of the Holy Ghost. The chapel below it recalled the washing of the feet and the Apparition of the Risen Jesus. To the east was the tomb of St. Stephen.
The Tomb of David “So David slept with his fathers, and was buried in the city of David”, 1 Kings 2:10. This may either mean Jerusalem’s City of David, or refer to Bethlehem. Early Christian pilgrims mention the Tomb of David at the tomb of St. Stephen on Mount Zion, but the first Jewish record comes from a 12th century traveler, Joseph of Tudela. He recalls being told that 15 years earlier a collapsed wall revealed rich tombs believed to be those of David and Solomon. The tomb’s burial stone is covered with a cloth of royal purple – embroidered with David’s symbols, the Star and harps. Upon it are crowns that once adorned Torah scrolls, saved from Nazi hands.
And as they did eat, Jesus took bread, and blessed and brake it, and gave to them and said, Take, eat, this is my body. And he took the cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them: and they all drank of it. And he said unto them, This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many. Verily I say unto you, I will drink no more of the fruit of the vine, until that day that I drink it new in the kingdom of God. And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives. Mark 14:22-26
This page is part of the book The Holy Land of Jesus
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