Catholic World News

Christians expelled from site of the Last Supper

June 10, 2014

Orthodox Jewish activists drove Christian pilgrims out of the Cenacle, the “upper room” revered as the site of the Last Supper, on June 9.

About 30 militants, including one member of the Israeli parliament, disrupted a prayer service being held by Christians. The building, which is also revered by Jews as the site of King David’s tomb, is owned by the Israeli government, and Christian services are ordinarily not permitted there.

Ownership of the building in Jerusalem has become a contentious issue in Israeli politics. Pope Francis was granted permission to celebrate Mass in the Cenacle, despite protests from some Orthodox Jews. Even before the papal visit, rumors had circulated in Jerusalem that the government of Israel was prepared to cede control of the building to the Vatican. Israeli government officials denied those rumors.

The building that houses the Cenacle and the tomb of David was once controlled by the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land. The Ottoman Empire evicted the Franciscans, and transformed the building into a mosque. The Franciscan Custody still hopes to regain at least administrative control of the Cenacle, as part of a long-overdue diplomatic accord between Israel and the Holy See, establishing the legal rights of the Church in the Holy Land.

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  • Posted by: Minnesota Mary - Jun. 11, 2014 12:05 PM ET USA

    vjenkins, do you realize how long the Israeli government has been stalling on finalizing the negotiations with the Vatican? It's been over 20 years! Of course they got what they wanted up front from the Vatican 20 years ago---Diplomatic status. Don't hold your breath waiting for the Israeli government to fulfill their end of the iffy bargain.

  • Posted by: - Jun. 11, 2014 12:10 AM ET USA

    Let us hope that the Israeli Government & the Vatican will soon reach an agreement. Do these Orthodox think that we would desecrate King David's Tomb; Christ is the descendent of King David.

  • Posted by: [email protected] - Jun. 10, 2014 8:46 PM ET USA

    Is there really any proof the it is even possible to be the site of King David's tomb? If indeed it is the upper room, does it make sense that even back in Christ's time this was the site of King David's tomb. I am sure it was used by others before the Last Supper. Would such a site be used in this manner? Just asking.