During the Second Temple period, the Bethesda pool was believed to have supernatural healing powers, especially to cure disabilities and other health-related issues. According to one Christian tradition, the Virgin Mary was born in a cave near this pool, and in that cave, her son Jesus would later perform miracles of faith. Located just inside the Lion's (St. Stephen's) Gate to Jerusalem's Old City, the church belongs to the French government and is run by the White Fathers, a Catholic order. Shrouded in antiquity, the building that now houses St. Anne's was once the location of a Roman temple to Asclepius, the Roman god of healing.
It is believed by some Christians to have been the birthplace of St. Anne. St. Anne's Church as it stands today was constructed in the twelfth century during the Crusader period, but even then, it was built to replace a much older Byzantine church. The church is located beside the Bethesda Pool, the healing powers of which Jesus is said to have used to heal an ailing paralytic. During the Muslim conquest of Jerusalem, Saladin converted the church into an institution of Muslim theological study. Today St. Anne's Church is a popular destination for pilgrims as they traverse the Via Dolorosa.
One of the most popular features of St. Anne's Church is its marvelous acoustics, which render it an ideal place for song. Pilgrims are permitted to sing any religious song they choose. The church is also popular because of its well-preserved Crusader architecture and the ruins of the Roman temple that can still be viewed on the site.
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The Jerusalem Tourism Map:Print
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