East of the Old City, in the valley below, signposted the Tomb of the Virgin/Church of Assumption. Walk No. 4. from Damascus Gate, Bus No. 1.
APR to SEP daily 5-12, 14:30-17.
OCT to MAR daily 6-12, 14:30-17.
|Cave Tomb Cave Church
|Incandescent Electric Light System
|Tomb of the Virgin Mary, Brotherhood of the Holy Sepulchre, Tel: +972-2-6284613.
|As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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|Euthymiaca Historia probably written by Cyril of Scythopolis.
|shroud sent to Constantinople, where it was kept in the Church of Our Lady of Blachernae.
|small church on an octagonal footing built by Patriarch Juvenal above the tomb.
|church destroyed during the Persian invasion.
|Crusaders installed a walled Benedictine monastery, the Abbey of St. Mary of the Valley of Jehoshaphat.
|bought by the Franciscans.
|Eastern Orthodox Christians renounced their rights to the land.
|destruction by a flood.
|restoration of cave and entrance.
|Bellarmino Bagatti, a Franciscan friar and archaeologist, excavated the site and found evidence of an ancient cemetery dating to the 1st century.
|Pope John Paul II states that Mary experienced natural death prior to her assumption into Heaven.
קבר מרים (Tomb of the Virgin Mary) is said to be the place where Virgin Mary was buried after she died a natural death. According to Eastern Christian Sacred Tradition she died like any human being, her soul was received by Christ upon death and her body was resurrected on the third day. She was taken up, soul and body, into heaven for the general resurrection. As a result her tomb was found empty on the third day. This version of the legend was written first in the Dormition of the Theotokos, the falling asleep, in a Greek document attributed to John the Theologian.
According to Roman Catholic legend Mary was "assumed" into heaven in bodily form, the Assumption. In the Catholic view, whether Mary actually underwent physical death remains open. However, on 25 June 1997 Pope John Paul II said that Mary experienced natural death prior to her assumption into Heaven. Nevertheless this site is obviously more important for Orthodox Christians.
For Muslims the site is the burial place of the mother of prophet Isa (Jesus). So it was an important religious location for many religions and thus it was never destroyed or damaged during wars and occupation in 2000 years.
The Euthymiaca Historia was probably written by Cyril of Scythopolis in the 5th century. It tells how the Emperor Marcian and his wife, Pulcheria, requested the relics of the Virgin Mary from Juvenal, the Patriarch of Jerusalem. Juvenal replied that Mary's tomb was discovered to be empty on the third day after her burial, only her shroud being remained and was preserved in the church of Gethsemane. In 452 the shroud was sent to Constantinople, where it was kept in the Church of Our Lady of Blachernae (Panagia Blacherniotissa). There are other traditions, for example that it was the Cincture (belt) of the Virgin Mary which was left behind. It was brought to the Vatopedi monastery on Mount Athos, and is venerated by the Holy Eastern Orthodox Church.
The nearby Cave of Gethsemane was bought by the Franciscans in the 17th century, but for some reason their ownership was disputed and not certain. The Eastern Orthodox Christians used this cave, but renounced their rights to the land in 1919. But the Tomb of the Virgin Mary is owned by the Greek Orthodox Church and the Armenian Apostolic Church of Jerusalem. In 1972, as a result of floods, Bellarmino Bagatti, a Franciscan friar and archaeologist, excavated the site and found evidence of an ancient cemetery dating to the 1st century. He interpreted the remains and guessed that the cemetery originally consisted of three chambers, and the current chamber was the inner chamber of the whole complex. However, he did not allows peer review by the wider archaeological community, and the validity of his results is not fully assessed. What remains is, that the site is obviously a completely artificial grave structure, and the age actually fits to the legends.
In the 5th century a small church on an octagonal footing was built by Patriarch Juvenal above the tomb. It was destroyed in the Persian invasion of 614. The church was rebuilt and destroyed several times during the centuries. In 1130 the Crusaders installed a walled Benedictine monastery, the Abbey of St. Mary of the Valley of Jehoshaphat, and rebuilt the church.