The Dormition Abbey, bearing the name of a Benedictine Community, is located on top of Mt Zion outside the walls of Old City Jerusalem outside the Zion Gate.
On August 15, Catholics around the world commemorate the taking of Virgin Mary into heaven ending here earthly life or falling asleep. This is the sanctuary where the commemorations are held.
The Abbey of Dormition and Monastery
An Important Jerusalem Landmark
It is a great landmark in Jerusalem, near the site of the Last Supper or Coenaculum, and on top of the Tomb of King David, where the Virgin Mary, died, or went onto an eternal sleep, therefore the name in Latin "Dormition Sanctae Mariae" or translated to English the Sleep of St Mary.
It is also called the Basilica of Assumption or Dormition according to the Catholic Dogma that St Mary, the mother of Christ was taken was taken body and soul to heaven.
The place became an important site where pilgrims used to pray commemorating the Death of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
The Dormition Abbey is a high building with a domed bell tower visible from many parts of the city. It is a popular pilgrimage site and included in most itineraries of Holy Land Tours.
The interior of the Basilica of the Dormition
Art inside the Basilica
Inside the Basilica is quiet simple and beautiful. You may see the mosaic of Mary and Baby Jesus with the figures of twelve prophets below. The are many more amazing mosaics, depicting Jesus as an infant with his mother the Virgin Mary, Jesus receiving pilgrims, John the Baptist on the Jordan River and other saints.
If you want to go down to the crypt use the spiral stairs and you will see a sculpture of the Sleeping Virgin with the figure of Jesus as if watching her from above, surrounded by the great women of the Bible: Eve, Miriam, Yael Ruth, Esther and Judith.
Beyond this great room are a few chapels donated by various countries.
These are the words of Pope Benedict XVI when visiting this holy site:
"By contemplating Mary in heavenly glory, we understand that the earth is not the definitive homeland for us either, and that if we live with our gaze fixed on eternal goods we will one day share in this same glory and the earth will become more beautiful.”
Inside the Crypt of the Dormition Church
After the Arab conquest from the 7th to the 12th centuries, the ruins were abandoned. Then with the arrival of the Crusades the site was the scenario of the new church during the 12th and 13th centuries, to be destroyed later after the fall of the Crusaders’ Kingdom.
When Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany came to the Holy Land in 1898 he bout the site on Mount Zion from the Sultan Abdul Hamid and presented it to the “German Union of the Holy Land” as a gift. The next year as a request of the Kaiser, the architect of the Diocese of Cologne Heinrich Renard came to the Holy Land and investigated the site, founding the remains of the Byzantine Church of Hagia Sion. The construction started in 1900 and the Basilica was dedicated ten years later in 1910 by the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem.
Amazing Mosaics adorn the interior of the Dormition Abbey
The Current Dormition Abbey and Monastery was damaged twice, during the Israel Independence War in 1948 and year later during the Six Day War in 1967.
During the years 1998-2006 it was known as the Hagia Maria Sion Abbey of the Virgin Mary as it was the name of the original abbey on the site. Since the One Hundredth Anniversary in 2006, the name was restored to the Abbey of the Dormition.
Between the years of 1948 of the Independence War of Israel and the later liberation of the city on the Six Day War, the site was used by the IDF – Israel Defense Forces, as a lookout into the Old City Jerusalem then on the hands of the Jordanians.
Credits for images:
dormition view by wilson44691
crypt by leifern
interior by tango7174
all courtesy of wikimedia commons
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