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Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The Pope's Middle East trip

- the Last Supper room

I've been reading about the pope's visit to Israel and the conflict over a spot where both King David's Tomb and the Last Supper room are thought to be, and where the pope plans to hold mass.

Pope’s ‘Last Supper’ mass raises Jewish hackles

[...] The Cenacle is on the upper floor of a Crusader-era building that is holy to all three monotheistic faiths. Not only was it a mosque in Ottoman times but it is also directly above the site revered by some Orthodox Jews as the burial place of King David. This has led to protests from some Jews, who say the planned mass would contravene an agreement in place since the days of the British Mandate under which different faiths have access to the site, but are mostly barred from holding religious rituals there.

- King David's Tomb

There's a worry by some that Israel may give this multi-religious site to the Vatican, but the Israeli government has denied this. What's kind of interesting is the theory as to *why* such a decision would be reached .... the return by the Vatican to Israel of the gold Menorah thought to have been taken to Rome after the sack of the Temple of Jerusalem in 70 AD. I once read a novel that touched on this, posted about it here. As I wrote then, no one really knows what became of the Menorah, but here's the possible trail ...

The gold Menorah was taken to Rome after the sack of the Temple of Jerusalem in 70 AD, and then was probably taken to Carthage by the Vandals who sacked Rome in 455, and then maybe was secured by Belisarius in 515 and taken from Carthage to Justinian in Constantinople, after which it may have been sent to a Christian church in Jerusalem, where it might have been captured by the Persians in 614, but was probably instead smuggled back to Constantinople where may have lived until the crusader siege of the city in1204, whereupon it might have been taken back to Rome and the Vatican.

But back to the present, I'm kind of surprised that given all the tensions around the pope's visit to the Middle East and the fraught history of relations between the Holy See and Israel, the pope plans to hold a religious service in such a contested place.


Blogger Dina said...

No kidding, is that what they are saying?!! Giving up the Cenacle would be a small price to pay in return for our menorah. I wish!

7:37 AM  
Blogger crystal said...

Hi Dina,

The article I quoted in my post from the Financial Times mentions that as an extreme speculation on some people's part ... grrr, now I can't seem to access the article. I don't think it's seen as a serious possibility, but it reminded me of that novel I had read earlier about the search for the Menorah.

9:05 AM  

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