The Church of Saint Peter in Gallicantu

Here is the Church of Saint Peter in Gallicantu, a Roman Catholic church on the eastern slope of Mount Zion, just outside the old city walls.  This church is dedicated to the event  from the New Testament known as the Denial of Peter.  The church takes its name from the Latin word “gallicantu”, meaning cock’s-crow.

This site is believed to be the location of the palace of Caiaphas, the Jewish High Priest who sat in judgement over Jesus, where Peter’s triple denial took place.  Here are some of the views from looking back at the Old City and looking across at an Arab neighborhood.

On the north side of the church is an ancient staircase that leads down towards the Kidron Valley. This may have been a passage from the upper city to the lower city when Jesus was here. Many Christians believe that Jesus followed this path down to Gethsemane the night of his arrest.

On this drizzly afternoon, we sat under our umbrellas at this site and listened to music from Rob Gardner’s “Lamb of God,” including the song about Peter’s betrayal.   For me, being in the actual place always cuts my heart to the core.  This is one of those places.

Here’s a bit from Wikipedia about the excavations below ground level in the church:

Lower chapel

Beneath the upper church is a chapel which incorporates stone from ancient grottos inside its walls. Down a hole in the center of the sanctuary one can see caves that may have been part of the Byzantine shrine. These walls are engraved with crosses left by fifth-century Christians.

Ancient underground chambers

On an even lower level there is a succession of caves from the Second Temple period. Since tradition places the palace of Caiaphas on this site, many believe that Jesus may have been imprisoned in one of these underground crypts after his arrest; however, these caves were normal in many Roman-era homes, and often served as cellars, water cisterns, and baths.

Here’s a look at the beautiful interior of the church:

About Ann Laemmlen Lewis

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