But, in 438, she was the Byzantine Empress who first built a church over a cave which was reputed to be part of the home of Joachim and Anne – the parents of Virgin Mary. And it was here that we started the second part of our day having walked around the Walls of the Old City, along the Kidron Valley (no stone-throwing children today!) and up to St Stephen’s Gate (Lion Gate).
Just along from St Anne’s (which included a walk around the pools of Bethesda, where Jesus healed the paralyser man) are the two chapels commemorating the condemnation and flagellation of Jesus at the hands of Pontius Pilate. Very simple, and quite small chapels, we were all struck by the beauty of the stained glass windows in Barluzzi’s chapel of the flagellation – but I couldn’t remember the artist … Anyone know? (later edit: the three magnificent stained glass windows in the choir are the work of L. Picchiarini after the design of D. Cambellotti; they represent The Scourging, The Washing of Hands and The Triumph of Barabbas.)
Doing our best to avoid the large groups which were converging from all sides and threatening to swallow us up, we dodged into the Lithostratos beneath the Convent of Eccentric Homo. We welcomed the cool of thus underground venue and it would be nice to think, as we stood on flagstones that made up the original roads of Jerusalem during the Roman Occupation that some of us might, quite literally, be following in the footsteps of Jesus.
Leaving the Via Dolorosa, we climbed the stairs to the roof of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre to see the Etheopian monastery before descending through their two chapels into the courtyard we had first visited some 7 hours earlier!
Lunch on the rooftop restaurant of Papa Andreas and a visit to the sweet shop in the Souk was all that was left before heading back to the hotel.
Later this afternoon we are meeting with some if the young Palestinian Christians who are part of Youth4hope and, after tea, we are taking the opportunity to visit absolutely nowhere and do absolutely nothing – we’ve deserved it!