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October 12, 2005

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Zhou De-Ming

Santa Maria la Blanca.

Built 1180. Fantastic arches.
The oldest and largest of Toledo's eight original synagogues.

In the 15th century, Christians seized the synagogue and turned it into a church. (Some say St. Vincent Ferrer was involved.)

In the 18th century the building was used as barracks and military storehouse.

The interior was redecorated in the 17th century with some of the most creative Baroque plaster work to be found in Seville, the work of the Borja brothers.

I believe it is no longer used as a church, just a monument.

Liam

Zhou

Correct. At least when I was there in 1990.

Jay Anderson

Now I suppose the Muslims will be expecting to get La Mesquita in Cordoba back.

JonathanR.

Not until they give back the Omayyid mosque.

Dennis

The Muslims can have the La Mesquita just as soon as they give back the Hagia Sophia in Constantinople!

Charles

We should get the Hagia Sophia back.

Also interesting that it is believed to be on the site of King David's tomb. Gotta be some fascinating typology there.

Charles

Well, I see Dennis beat me to that punch.

Septimus

Giving the Jews a synogogue is no problem; our elder brothers in the Covenant aren't out to destroy us. So please, let's not speak of the kin of our Savior in the same fashion as the Jihadists.

Jack Dwyer

I dunno... [shuffle shuffle] I'm a "once a Catholic Church, always a Catholic Church" kinda guy... But, if it was a synagogue originally, I suppose so. I would support building them a very nice synagogue nearby instead, however!

But I agree with the above comments: nix any chance of muslims getting back a Church they turned into a mosque in the first place... I want to see the Pope consecrate Hagia Sophia and offer Holy Mass there; wouldn't that be something?!

bruce cole

This will make the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem (as LBJ used to say) "s**t a squealin' worm." Therefore, I approve.

Caroline

We actually believe that this place in Jerusalem was the room in which Christ held the Last Supper? Remodeled but on the same spot at least? And we want to exchange real real estate in Spain for a pious legend?

reluctant penitent

Caroline,

If you think it's a pious legend don't go there. Many in the Church think that it's more than a pious legend. If you accept any of the places of pilgrimage as being more than legends invented by the Crusaders then I don't see why you would dismiss this one.

Donna

RP: The reason I've having some trouble with this site as well is that it looks to be built on the site of King David's tomb. I'm assuming the room in which the Last Supper was held had to be either in an inn or in a private home owned by one of the Lord's more well-heeled followers. Would the ancient Jews have permitted the building of either an inn or a private home over the burial site of Israel's greatest king? That just doesn't seem right.

Add to that the fact that Jerusalem was pretty well trashed in 70 A.D. and I don't see how Crusaders, coming many centuries after the fact, could locate the room.

I accept that the Church of the Holy Sepulcher is actually on the site of Christ's tomb, since the very earliest Christians gathered there for memorial services and a pagan temple was purposely erected on that site to discourage them. St. Helena was responsible for tearing down the temple and building a church on the site. Similiarly, "Mary's Well" in Nazareth dates from the time of Christ and the population of Nazareth was only about 200 at that time, so it's not unreasonable to think that Mary actually did use that well. There's a historical continuity there that the "Upper Room" lacks.

A bit of Holy Land trivia: Neil Armstrong visited Jerusalem back in the '70's and the Israeli tour guide was taking him up the steps of the old temple when Armstrong suddenly stopped and asked the guide if Jesus had walked on those steps. The guide said yes, Jesus was an observant Jew, and so he would have walked up and down those very same steps many times in his life when he came to Jerusalem for the holidays. Armstrong said later he felt more excitement walking on those steps than he had when he walked on the moon.

Kenjiro Shoda

I think all this "I'll give you this back if you give me that" business is ridiculous.
Why can't the Vatican negotiate with the Israeli's to have back the Room of the Last Supper and just leave it at that without the promise of giving the Israeli's something back in return.
It all sounds so childish.

Unfortunatly, John Paul II started it all by giving back relics, Icons, and other religiously significant items to other Faiths in efforts of ecumenism. Pathetic.

So many good Catholics think that it is good just to be happy with what we have, not look to get major religious buildings back if it will entail years of delicate negotiations, and not to make extravagent and unnecessary gestures of eccumenical sensitivity (i.e. appologizing for the supposed sins of the Church, giving back relics, collective breast-beating, etc.).

I wish we could go back to the pre-Vatican II times, when the Catholic Church stood up for its traditions and beliefs regardless of what the other religious thought...."This is who we are like it or not".

Too much wishful thinking I guess. But what we have now is ridiculous.

Kenjiro Shoda

I think all this "I'll give you this back if you give me that" business is ridiculous.
Why can't the Vatican negotiate with the Israeli's to have back the Room of the Last Supper and just leave it at that without the promise of giving the Israeli's something back in return.
It all sounds so childish.

Unfortunatly, John Paul II started it all by giving back relics, Icons, and other religiously significant items to other Faiths in efforts of ecumenism. Pathetic.

So many good Catholics think that it is good just to be happy with what we have, not look to get major religious buildings back if it will entail years of delicate negotiations, and not to make extravagent and unnecessary gestures of eccumenical sensitivity (i.e. appologizing for the supposed sins of the Church, giving back relics, collective breast-beating, etc.).

I wish we could go back to the pre-Vatican II times, when the Catholic Church stood up for its traditions and beliefs regardless of what the other religious thought...."This is who we are like it or not".

Too much wishful thinking I guess. But what we have now is ridiculous.

Seamus

"Why can't the Vatican negotiate with the Israeli's to have back the Room of the Last Supper and just leave it at that without the promise of giving the Israeli's something back in return."

Well, how about because negotiating is all about giving the other person a reason to do what you want him to do, and one good way to do that is to offer him something in return.

Of course, if you want instead to persuade the Israeli negotiators to convert to Catholicism, so that they recognize the intrinsic justice of the Church's claim, I admit that that's another way to do it. I leave you to determine which approach is more likely to pay off in the short run.

Huatou

The room of the Last Supper is most likely NOT the tomb of King David, which is thought to have been in the City of David a little ways down the mountain (an important archaeological site, but the actual tomb of King David is unknown). What makes it interesting is that the "Tomb of King David" was possibly a very early Christian Church (oriented toward the Temple, has Christian graffiti), and was also once a mosque (the tiled prayer niche is presently hidden behind some bookshelves). The present room of the Last Supper (a story above the "tomb") was once a mosque with a prayer niche and stained glass windows with quotes from the Quran about King David. It's open to Christian pilgrims. Not much to see there, however. Around the corner is Dormition Abbey, once the site of a great Byzantine Church, the Nea.
Definitely one of my favorite corners of Jerusalem.

Yisrael Medad

I see you are also discussing this issue. Read my comments at http://myrightword.blogspot.com/2005/10/remember-church-previously-synagogue.html

Elisheva

I found this site while doing research on how the Vatican is once more stealing land and property from the Jewish people.
Perhaps it has not occurred to you that over the ages the Catholic Church has repeated done all it could to destroy the Jewish people? Take the crusades, for example.
Some of you up here have complained about the giving of an old church for the site in Israel.
This, in fact, is a terrible thing to do.
We have no need for this silly building, and it is a bad deal for us. But it is ours, it should be given to us for nothing at all. Forget about a trade. It is stolen property, and you have a duty to return it to the original owners. Which is the Jewish People.
- Along with the other things stolen from us, in the course of pogroms and attacks on the Jewish people by The Church.
The Church has stolen so much from the Jewish people, including continuing to hold all the sacred objects from our Beis HaMikdash, as well as a large number of our holy Torah Scrolls. In short, your church is a robber and thief of Jewish land and other property.
One of you wrote that The Church should get the site for nothing.
Why should that be? Why should the church get it at all?
Did The Vatican give the Jews a piece of Rome?
While on that topic, the Colisium was built by Jews enslaved, and the funds to build it were from Jewish coffers.
How about if the Colisium is given over to the Jewish people as compensation?
Do the Jewish people have no rights at all?
Note this: The Vatican is taking the side of the Muslims and Arabs.

Jack Elliott

I find it particularly troubling that there are so many ill-informed statements about the forthcoming transfer of the Cenacle to the Vatican, some of which are oblivious of the Christian claims to, and indeed, the Christian origins of this site.

There is no reason to believe that King David’s tomb is or was ever located in the same building as and beneath the Cenacle on what is presently called Mount Zion. In fact, this Mount Zion is not what was regarded originally as being Mount Zion. This designation originally referred, appropriately enough, to the original city of Jerusalem, “the City of David,” and after the construction of the Temple, the Temple Mount itself came to be referred to as Mount Zion, thus giving so much of the symbolic power to the term Zion in the Hebrew scriptures.

Although it has never been located for certain, most archaeologists and historians believe that David’s tomb was on the Ophel ridge, south of the Temple Mount (and east of the present Mount Zion), this being the site of “the strong hold of Zion, that is the City of David” (II Samuel 5:7). Upon his death David “was buried in the City of David” (I Kings 2:10), as were his descendants (I Kings 11:43; 14:31; 15:8; 15:24; 22:50; II Kings 9:28; 15:38; 16:20). Regarding the site of the tombs of the Davidic line, see Hershel Shanks, “Is This King David’s Tomb,” BIBLICAL ARCHAEOLOGY REVIEW, Jan/Feb 1995, pp. 63-67.

How then were Mount Zion and David’s tomb transferred from the Ophel ridge/Temple Mount westward to the present Mount Zion? The confusion appears to have developed by the first century AD, by which time much of the city of Jerusalem had expanded to this higher ridge (i.e. present Mount Zion) which perhaps because of the greater height was thought erroneously to have been the original City of David, something that has been definitively disproved by archaeology.

It is quite likely that this higher ridge was the location of the upper room where the last supper was held, and where the Church was founded on the Pentecost following the Resurrection. By the second century AD, there was a small church building located on this new Mount Zion that was associated with the meeting place of the apostles. (see Jerome Murphy-O’Connor, “The Cenacle: Topographical Setting for Acts 2:44-45,” in THE BOOK OF ACTS IN ITS PALESTINIAN SETTING, 1995, pp. 303-321) By the fourth century, a much larger church was constructed known as the Church of Holy Zion that commemorated Jesus and the beginning of the Church, with the name linking the current attribution of Mount Zion to the image of the Church as being the New Zion. Over the centuries, new chapels and altars were erected for the liturgical commemoration of various related events and personages with one of these being a cenotaph commemorating the tomb of David, because of his linkages to the Christian tradition, namely the fulfillment of promises made to the Davidic line in Jesus Christ. Furthermore, whereas David was the founder of the “old Zion,” the church was the “new Zion”; so the tomb symbolically linked promise and fulfillment. In this regard, see Peter’s reference to David’s tomb in his discussion of the fulfillment of prophecy (Acts 2:29). In regard to the origin of the “tomb,” see the essay by the Israeli scholar Ora Limor, “The Origins of a Tradition: King David’s Tomb on Mount Zion,” TRADITIO, vol. 44, pp. 453-462, 1988.

Over the centuries of Islamic rule the Church of Holy Zion was subject to being heavily damaged or even destroyed by Muslims. In the 1330s, the Catholic Franciscan order was able to purchase the ruins of the church from the Muslims. Because the enormous church was largely destroyed except for a few rooms, the Franciscans simply constructed a monastery for their base to serve pilgrims. The focal point of their complex were the restored rooms representing the Upper Room (Cenacle) and the last supper and the descent of the Holy Spirit and downstairs the tomb of David, among other commemorative shrines. For approximately two centuries they occupied this monastery, which was the focal point of all Catholic pilgrimage activities.

However, over the centuries people forgot that the “tomb of David” was not really the tomb of David. Because the Muslims venerated David as a prophet, they coveted the shrine and eventually evicted the Franciscans from their own monastery in 1551, turning it into a mosque in honor of David. Over the centuries, locked out of this key Christian shrine, the Franciscans continued to petition for its return, but to no avail. (for an overview of the Franciscan period, see Sabino de Sandoli, ofm, THE PEACEFUL LIBERATION OF THE HOLY PLACES IN THE XIV CENTURY, on the web at: http://www.christusrex.org/www2/liberation/

In 1948-49, during the fighting for the city of Jerusalem during the War for Israeli Independence, the Muslims abandoned the monastery, and it was then occupied and claimed by the Israelis despite the Franciscans’s pleas for restoring it to them. Now it appears that given the shortness of human memory, the Christian origins of the place have been forgotten, with many believing that the tomb of David is both a real tomb and Jewish site, when it fact it is neither. So today people come to pray at a site of Christian origin in a former Christian monastery located on Christian Mount Zion, while denying the Christian linkages to the place.

arnie

i hope and pray israel makes NO deal with the catholic church. the catholics have stolen so much from the jews.

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