Garo Nalbandian

Modern-day pilgrims flock to the entrance of the Tomb of the Virgin Mary, but few pass down the narrow passageway, to the right of the entrance, that leads to the Cave of Gethsemane, although the cave is much more likely to be an authentic Christian holy site. (The passageway is partially blocked by the wall at right in this photo.)

Christian pilgrims have recorded their visits to the cave, which they venerated as the place of Jesus’ arrest, since the fourth century, long before the Tomb of the Virgin was built beside it in the fifth century. Touring the Holy Land in about 382, the nun Egeria described pilgrims going “into Gethsemane” with candles “so that they can all see.” Although Egeria failed to mention a cave, she clearly indicated that Gethsemane was located in a dim interior.