The Tomb of the Virgin Mary is situated near the Church of All Nations and the Garden of Gethsemane. Visiting the tomb is a memorable experience: Visitors must go deep underground, down a staircase that was carved in the rock during the twelfth century. Immediately surrounding is a sparkling array of iconography, hanging from the ceiling and decorating the cave walls. Medieval art, including a painting of the Madonna and Child, adorn this sanctuary.
The crypt is sheltered within a barrier, so that a visitor must bend forward in order to enter. This forces people to bow and thereby demonstrate their respect for the sanctity of the site. The tomb has been dated as early as the first century. A church was built above the tomb during the same period that Constantine built the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, where some Catholics believe the tomb of Jesus is located. Most Christians believe that Mary was resurrected after her death.
Roman Catholics believe in the Assumption of Mary, whereby she was assumed bodily into heaven either prior or subsequent to her death. A section of the cave has been set aside for Muslims to pray, because the Virgin Mary is revered in Islam. Mary is mentioned more than any other woman in the Koran, and her virtue and chastity are exalted. Since Islam regards Jesus as a prophet, his mother holds special significance. Muslims also believe that during the Night Journey of Mohammed, he witnessed a light appear over the tomb of the Virgin Mary. Today it is a place of peace, where pilgrims pray and light flickering candles that gently illuminate the cavern dimness.
Monday to Saturday, 6:00 to 12:00, 14:30 to 17:00
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The Jerusalem Tourism Map:Print
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