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article imageOne building, three religions — Protests continue at holy site

By Karen Graham     Jun 1, 2015 in World
Jerusalem - If one building in the world epitomizes the religious strife we are seeing in the world today, it would be a building located in Jerusalem, Israel. The building is shared by two major religions, each claiming its importance to their own faith.
In an incident that took place on Monday, Israeli police had to remove Jewish protesters trying to disrupt a Christian ritual taking place at the site, considered holy by both religions.
Israeli police spokeswoman Luba Samri says a skirmish took place Monday at a site revered by Jews as the tomb of the biblical King David and by Christians as the site of Jesus' Last Supper. On Sunday, Christians were accosted by Jewish protesters trying to stop them from participating in a Pentecost celebration.
The protests are nothing new and have been going on for years, even though there is a status-quo arrangement that allows Christians to conduct prayers at the site several times a year. The building itself has been shrouded in mystery for years, revered by so many, and yet, it is constantly fought over.
Dozens of Jewish protesters trying to prevent a Christian ritual from taking place at a holy site in...
Dozens of Jewish protesters trying to prevent a Christian ritual from taking place at a holy site in Israel were forcibly removed.
Wochit News
Mount Zion, the Cenacle, and the Tomb of King David
In a tradition that dates back to the 12th century, the tomb of King David is located on the ground floor of the former Hagia Zion, a Byzantine church. Older Byzantine tradition, dating back to the 4th century, identify this same place as where the Last Supper took place and the original meeting place of the Christian faith.
So it is easy to see how the site has been in dispute for so long. The second story room where the Last Supper is said to have taken place is called the Cenacle. The word comes to us from the Latin derivative, cena, meaning dinner.
Now, Christian tradition has documented that pilgrimages to the Cenacle on Mt. Zion in Jerusalem have been going on since at least 384 AD, when many pilgrims, such as Egeria, a Galician woman made a trip to the Holy Land and wrote about her pilgrimage (Denys Pringle, The Churches of the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem. Vol. 3. The City of Jerusalem (Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007).
A view of the  Cenacle  (Last Supper room) in the building on Mount Zion as it exists today.
A view of the "Cenacle" (Last Supper room) in the building on Mount Zion as it exists today.
Marco Plassio Wikimedia Commons
The building itself has been destroyed a number of times and gone through several reconstructions over the centuries. It now has a gothic appearance. According to Christian tradition, the Cenacle is also believed to be the site of the final Passover meal, the washing of the disciples feet, among others. But perhaps the most important event in tradition was the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples on the day of Pentecost.
Downstairs, in a niche on the ground floor is the tomb of King David. Since the 12th century, this place has been viewed to be where the sepulchre of King David is located. This part of the site has a fascinating history actually dating back to the ninth century.
Jerusalem  The tomb of King David on Mount Zion.
Jerusalem, The tomb of King David on Mount Zion.
Berthold Werner
According to Rabbi Dr. Ari Zivotofsky, King David is actually buried in the " southeastern area of Jerusalem’s real Old City, which is located to the south of the Temple Mount and Dung Gate and is known today as Ir David—the City of David."
The Rabbi explains that by the 9th century, people started hearing King David was buried on Mt. Zion, and by the 11th century, Crusaders had erected an empty sarcophagus to mark the site, which remains until today. He says the building we see today was erected in 1335, on top of a second-to-fourth-century building.
Rabbi Dr. Ari Zivotofsky further cites the fact that in the 15th century, the building was taken from a group of Franciscan Friars by Muslims and renamed the "Ibn Dawood" mosque by the residents of Jerusalem The mosque was established for Muslim prayers under the patronage of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent and the supervision of al-Shareef Sheikh Ahmad bin Ali Dajani.
Believe it or not, the contents of the tomb have never been examined, and for that matter, no one knows if there are any skeletal remains inside. Anyway, the Vatican and Israel have been at each others throats for years, both claiming the right to possession of the site. And that is the really sad part of all the uproar.
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