of the Dormition of the Mother of God in Jerusalem
of the Dormition of the Mother of God in the Holy City of Jerusalem
begin three days earlier. According to tradition, the Most-Holy
Virgin Mother of God, after the glorious Ascension of Her Divine
Son, often went into prayerful seclusion on the Mount of Olives.
Three days before her Dormition, she was given these tidings from
Archangel Gabriel while praying.
of the Mother of God
heavenly messenger brought a palm frond and heralded to the Most-Pure
Virgin of her impending departure into heaven.
messenger brought her a palm frond from Heaven and told the Most-Pure
Virgin of her impending departure into Heaven. The Mother of God
wished that all the apostles, scattered throughout the world and
preaching the Gospel, would gather for her funeral to bury her with
her parents, Holy Joakim and Anna, in Gethsemane, and for the Lord
Jesus Christ Himself to take her holy soul into His hands. These
three wishes were granted. The Most-Holy Mother of God reposed in
Zion in the house of St John the Theologian, surrounded by the holy
apostles, miraculously brought from all parts of the world on clouds.
When the bier holding the body of the Most-Pure Virgin was taken
through the town to Gethsemane, St John the Theologian walked in
front, holding the shining heavenly palm frond, the symbol of victory
over death. In memory of these holy events, a great procession of
the cross is held in Jerusalem from the narthex of the Church of
the Dormition, called Little Gethsemane, found directly across from
the Church of the Resurrection of Christ, to Gethsemane in Kedron
Valley. The procession begins at 4 am. Monastics lead the procession.
Nuns from Greek, Russian and Rumanian monasteries gather to escort
the epitaphios (plashchanitsa in Russian, or painted burial shroud)
of the Most-Holy Mother of God to Gethsemane. They form two columns
and lead the procession.
nuns of our convents.
are the clergymen. The hegumen of the Tomb of the Mother of God
carries the icon-epitaphios, adorned with colored ribbons. He is
pressed by the crowd: multitudes of pilgrims from Russia and Greece.
procession of the cross heading for Gethsemane.
especially revere the Mother of God, who leads the host of saints.
procession of the cross approaches the burial place of the Queen
hold candles and bouquets of flowers with aromatic basil leaves.
All wish to
kiss the icon. As a result, the procession of the cross proceeds
slowly. Greek nuns sing the troparion of the Dormition and the exapostilarion
of the feast day. The local population of Arab Christians emerge
from their homes and joyfully greet the Queen of Heaven. All carry
burning candles and bouquets of flowers with aromatic basil leaves.
The procession begins in the dark, and ends after dawn. Under the
ringing of bells, the icon of the Queen is taken inside the church
dedicated to her Dormition, and placed into a carved niche directly
behind the Tomb. Worshipers respectfully venerate the icon. On the
day of the Leavetaking of the Dormition, another such procession
will be held back to Little Gethsemane, where the icon is kept the
rest of the year. And again, the nuns will gather to honor the Most-Holy
Mother of God, who even in her Dormition does not abandon us.