Hagia Maria Sion Abbey and Mount Zion – Jerusalem

This weekend a friend and I visited Mount Zion (Har Tzion) and the City of David. Zion can refer to Israel as a whole (and was first used by David when he conquered Jerusalem). Mt. Zion isn’t really a mountain, or even a mount. Jerusalem is full of hills and Mt. Zion is pretty much one of them. Parts of the area was damaged (bombshell blasts) during the battles in 1948 and 1967 and have never been repaired. We reached Mt. Zion from the Old City, leaving from the Zion Gate and visited the Hagia Maria Sion Abbey, the Cenacle, and the Tomb of King David.

The Hagia Maria Sion Abbey (also the Basilica of the Dormition) is a relatively new church (finished in 1910) commemorating the death of the Virgin Mary. The Basilica houses religious interpretations from around the world (including a Virgen de la Guadalupe from Mexico), and a crypt where Mary supposedly lived and died (5, 6). The crypt holds a coffin with the figure of Mary resting on top (5).

We entered the Basilica and had the whole place almost to ourselves: we were only accompanied in the crypt by an old caretaker (4) and a Greek Orthodox priest and an older woman. Within a minute we discovered that the crypt had amazing acoustics. My friend’s boots squeaked a symphony as she walked around the chamber. Embarrassed we looked around at the priest (the Eastern Orthodox are supposed to be among the most strict sects in Christianity) hoping we weren’t making too much noise. He and the woman looked back at us and then started to chatter loudly. Relieved I started to take photos without checking if I could until I noticed the priest moving towards me. I quickly lowered my camera and was about to apologize when the priest whipped out his own camera from under his robe and took his own photos. We left the crypt and continued on to…


~ by jonathanmtsai on January 30, 2011.

One Response to “Hagia Maria Sion Abbey and Mount Zion – Jerusalem”

  1. Hi Jonathan,
    I am the granddaughter of the Architect who built this church.
    His name was “HEINRICH RENARD”
    You are so fortunate to have seen it, I never have. It’s one of my dreams, but one I will never be able to realize .
    I hope it is as beautiful as it is in my dreams. My grandmother has told me countless stories about the years it took for him to build it. He built mostly churches, and there are many around Germany. He lived in Cologne.
    (I live in Australia now) There are a few more buildings in Jerusalem , he was the Architect of, like the Smith School …etc
    I’m glad you enjoyed his work.
    Marie-Louise Schaefer

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