Jerusalem is getting ready for Christmas, with the local Christian community and tourists from around the world, from all Christian denominations, and many other visitors from all faiths and backgrounds are making plans to enjoy the festive period. Jerusalem has become an increasing attraction at Christmas for faith travelers and culture tourists wanting to see first hand the birth place of the Bible, during the height of the festive season.
The city of Jerusalem, holy to Judaism, Islam, and Christianity, has a special ability to welcome those of all different faiths, and provide an inspirational experience for each and every traveler.
On Christmas Eve, thousands of Christians living in Jerusalem and many guests who come to Jerusalem for the holiday arrive at the various churches, to celebrate the most important holiday in the Christian calendar. Below are the some details of the various Christmas Mass prayers and ceremonies that are scheduled to be held on Christmas Eve and on Christmas Day in Jerusalem, further details of which are available in a guide, produced by the Jerusalem Development Authority for visitors to the city.
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Church of the Holy Sepulchre – perhaps the most important church in the Christian world. The Church marks the place where the last events in Jesus’ life took place, revered by many Christians as the place where Jesus Christ was crucified, buried and resurrected.
Located in the heart of the Christian Quarter on Saint Helena St., tourists can take buses No. 1 \ 20 \ 60 from the central bus station to Yitzhak Kariv St. and from there continuing on foot to the Jaffa Gate, through David St., taking the first left onto Hanotsrim St. and then a right on the second street onto Saint Helena St..
Church of Our Lady of the Spasm – is in the Armenian Catholic Church, 4th station along the Via Dolorosa, is dedicated to the moment Mary, mother of Jesus Christ, saw her son in agony on his way to the crucifixion. The church was built in 1881 on the remains of a church from 4-5 century AD. The Church can be found on Ha-Gai Strreet and the corner of the Via Dolorosa. Mass begins at 10:00 on Christmas Day, but Mass is not held here on Christmas Eve.
Visitors can arrive either through the Damascus Gate, Bus No. 1 \ 1A from the Central Bus Station or by foot through Jaffa Gate to the market – walk along David St. to the end, turn right onto Ha-Shalshelet St., at the end take a left onto Ha-Gai St. and walk till the corner of the Via Dolorosa.
Lutheran Church of the Redeemer – named after Martin Luther, the founder of Protestantism in the 16th century the church was built in 1897 on the ruins of the Church of Santa Maria and was inaugurated by Kaiser Wilhelm II. The church can be found on Muristan St. Market, in the Christian Quarter and Mass begins at: 23:00 on Christmas Eve. Tel: 02-6276111
Dormition Abbey – The Church Mount Zion is dedicated to the tradition that on this spot Mary, Jesus’ mother fell into an eternal sleep. The Church belongs to the Benedictine Order is built on the remains of the Byzantine basilica Hagia Sion. Mount Zion is also the place where the Last Supper took place and is the location of the tomb of King David.
A choral Mass begins at 20:00 on Christmas Eve, while an impressive Christmas pageant starts at midnight. Tourists can arrive there using bus No. 78 to Mount Zion. Tel: 02-5655330
Church of Saint Salvador – The Church and Monastery were built in 1885 by the Catholic Franciscan Order of Saint Francis of Assisi. The Franciscan Monks’ role is to be “guardians of the Holy Land” – Custodia Terrae Sanctae.
Mass begins at: 19:00 on Christmas Eve, and 08:30 on Christmas morning. Arrival is through the New Gate entrance – via the light rail (Safra Square Station), crossing the IDF Square junction and turning left onto the New Gate. Take the first left onto Saint Francis St. Tel: 02-6266777
Convent of Notre Dame de Jerusalem – Our Lady of Jerusalem is the French Catholic compound in Jerusalem. Built in 1889 and sponsored by the Comte Marie Paul Amedee de Piellat , the complex includes the Notre Dame hostel and the Catholic administrative center. This is one of the most impressive compounds in Jerusalem from the 19th century, and was built in the Baroque style. There are two tall towers standing, and between them a statue of Mary, the Madonna, and an infant Christ in her arms.
The address of the church is 3 Paratroopers Road (Ha-Tsanhanim St) and Mass begins at: 22:00. It is recommended to arrive half an hour before the start of Mass. Tel: 02-6279111
St. John’s Ein Kerem, is a Catholic Church is dedicated to John the Baptist, who, according to tradition was born there. The church was first built by Helena, mother of the Emperor Constantine in the 4th century AD. The Church was destroyed in 614 and was re-built by the Crusaders. During the 19th century the Church underwent renovation and was cared for by the Spanish monarchy.
The address is Mevo Ha’Sha’ar, Ein Karem, and Mass begins at: 00.00 on Christmas Eve. Visitors can take the Light Rail to Mount Herzl station (last stop) then continue by bus No. 28 / 28 A. It is recommended to arrive half an hour before Mass begins. Tel: 02-6413639
Communicated by the Jerusalem Development