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Catholic Dictionary




Beyond Mount Olivet, about one mile southeast of where Christ ascended into heaven, on the side of a nearby hill, is the traditional house where Martha and Mary lived with Lazarus, and where Christ raised Lazarus from the dead. In the fourth century a crypt-chapel marked Lazarus' tomb. The original Bethany was destroyed by the Romans under Titus (A.D. 39-81) and never rebuilt. Monasteries, early Christian churches, and fairly modern shrines were built nearby, but today all are in a ruined condition. In 1187 Bethany was claimed by the Moslems, who forbade Christians to enter the tomb, but in 1614 the Franciscans by payment were allowed to open another entrance so Christians could approach the tomb without going through the mosque. (Etym. Greek bêthania, Hebrew bet`aniyyah, contraction of bêt chananyah, house of Ananiyah.)