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Saint of the Day: St. Pio of Pietrelcina
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A virtual pilgrimage to the Garden of Gethsemane

Zelda Caldwell - published on 03/18/21

The Franciscan friars of the Custody of the Holy Land take us to the site of Jesus’ agony.

The Franciscan friars of the Custody of the Holy Land invite you to join them in this second stop on a virtual pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Here, we find ourselves at the Garden of Gethsemane, the site of Jesus’ agony.

The place of Jesus’ betrayal and agony

As we are reminded in this video, this was the place, according to the Evangelists Matthew and Mark, where Jesus was betrayed by Judas and then arrested while praying with his Disciples after the Last Supper.

Today, the Basilica of Nations, built between 1922 and 1924, graces the site where archaeologists discovered a Crusader-era church, and later a Byzantine church dating to the 4th century. It is believed that this older church was part of a monastery or reception house for medieval pilgrims.

The rock of Jesus’ agony

Pilgrims visiting the basilica today stop to pray by the rock, which is at the center of the sanctuary, in front of the altar. Br. Eugenio Alliata explains in the virtual pilgrimage, “The rock that is in the center of the Basilica is the one that attracts pilgrims who come to venerate it, not for itself, but for He who prayed on it.”

It was here that Jesus prayed amid the olive trees, “Father, if it is possible, pass from me this cup. But not my will, but your will be done.”

Olive trees, a living reminder

As we leave the basilica, we can take some time to stroll prayerfully in the adjacent garden of olive trees. Just as archaeologists discovered evidence that the churches on this site date back to the earliest Christian pilgrimages, scientists have recently discovered that the olive trees have just as storied a lineage. At the request of the Custody of the Holy Land, experts found that the present-day olive trees are about 900 years old, all have the same DNA, and were derived from one mother plant.

As we take this virtual pilgrimage, we are invited by the Franciscan friars to focus on Jesus’ prayer before his arrest.

“All our prayers and liturgies are reduced to this ‘Thy will be done,’ that is, ‘I place myself in Thy hands,'” said the priest in his homily on the occasion of the procession to the basilica. He then remarked that the words spoken by Jesus were “not Jesus’ solitude, it is communion with the Father.”

To participate in this, the second holy site on the virtual pilgrimage presented by the Franciscan friars of the Custody of the Holy Land, click on the video above.


Read more:
A virtual pilgrimage to the place where Jesus wept for Jerusalem

Holy LandPilgrimages
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