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The 1st Preliminary Station:
Jesus goes down to Gethsemane


It had all started some time earlier. Jesus had gone down to Gethsemane with his disciples. He crossed the Kidron Valley. It was pitch dark. Overlooking the Valley stood the Temple and the city walls. Jesus prays and suffers in his loneliness. His disciples fall asleep: "..he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. "Abba, Father," he said, "everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will." Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping" (Mk 14:35 -37).

All of a sudden the silence of the valley is shattered by the hurrying footsteps of soldiers of the Temple. They are led by one of the disciples. The Lord is kissed not out love but out of selfishness. He is arrested. It all started here in this valley under the shadow of the Temple of the Lord. He is led uphill towards the house of the High Priest.

A Prayer

Dear Jesus, you are sweating. No, you are bleeding. You must have suffered more than anyone of us can imagine. Of course, Lord. You felt abandoned by one and all. No one shared with you these lonesome moments, not even those you had chosen to be your disciples. Not even those who witnessed your Glory on Mount Tabor. Those who where witnesses of your miracles and with whom you ate, drank and slept abandoned you. They were tired, Lord, and fell asleep! Please Lord make me understand more the meaning of staying with you, of sharing your life, of being your follower, of believing in your words and imitating your deeds.

The Site

The Grotto of Gethsemane
where Jesus left his disciples when He went to pray

The church of Jerusalem always looked at this site as the place where Jesus was met by Judas and where the Lord was arrested. The veneration of this cave in the Valley of Kidron was already attested by St. Jerome in the IV century. Excavations carried out by the Franciscans in 1956 after a heavy flooding in the valley revealed mosaic fragments going back to the IV-VI centuries together with other antiquities pre-dating this period. Amongst them there were an olive oil press and a cistern.
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The Olive Garden of Gethsemane
in the Kidron Valley where Jesus retired to pray

In the Valley of Kidron on the side of the Mount of Olives a garden of venerable old olive trees bears witness to the events of the prayer and the sweating of blood of the Lord prior to his passion. The trees themselves, kept with care and a certain veneration by the Franciscan Friary, are evidence of the ancient Christian devotion for this site.
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The site of the Agony of the Lord
and his sweating of blood

This "very cared for" rock inside the Church of all Nations brings to mind the pain and the solitude of the Lord during his prayers to the Father prior to His arrest. Devotion for this spot has been carried over to us since the early times of Christianity.

Another view
of the venerable olive trees of Gethsemane

large image (125KB)

© copyright 2001. Reflections, prayers and descriptive text
by John Abela ofm edited by Michael Olteanu
based on research by Albert Storm (SBF - Jerusalem)
Hi-Res pictures prepared by Michael Olteanu
Display pictures prepared by John Abela ofm

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Created / Updated Sunday, January 6, 2002 at 14:10:17 by John Abela ofm
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