Gethsemane was the garden where, according to the New Testament, Jesus prayed the last night before being arrested. The Garden of Olives, officially cared for by the Franciscans since 1681, is located east of the Kidron Valley, between the paved path that climbs to the busy Mount Road and Jericho. Located at the entrance of the property of the sanctuary of Gethsemane, the garden occupies an area of about 1,200 square meters and is protected by a fence that allows visitors to walk around the ancient olive trees.
Jesus’ prayer in the garden is commemorated every year on Holy Thursday: After the Last Supper, Jesus went to the garden, where he used to meet with his disciples to pray. According to the Gospels it was a place that both Jesus and his disciples would frequently visit and this allowed for Judas to find him there.
The word Gethsemane means “oil press” (referring to olive oil). Apparently there was a lot of olive trees surrounding the area in those days. All the Gospels refer in one way or another to this place.
In the garden, next to the hollow and twisted trunks of the oldest olive trees you will find new trees, replacing the cypress trees and other plants that were used in the nineteenth century, for decoration of the Holy Sepulchre.
Currently, you’ll find 8 of the oldest olive trees, with trunks whose diameter exceeds in some cases three meters. In the garden you’ll see the olive tree planted by Pope Paul VI on January 4, 1964, during his pilgrimage to the Holy Land.
They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.”