St. Peter in Gallicantu

St. Peter in Gallicantu

A Roman Catholic Church located on the eastern slope of Mount Zion, the Church of Saint Peter in Gallicantu is extremely close to the walls of Jerusalem's Old City. Its name comes from the story, recorded in the Book of Mark, of the denial of Jesus by Peter, a Roman soldier and a maid. According to Mark's account, at the moment of denial, a cock crowed – "Gallicantu" is Latin for “the cock’s crow.” A prominent statue in the church’s courtyard captures the triple denial of Jesus, including a cock perched on the top of a column.

On your tour, note the many large, colorful mosaics of important personalities from the Bible in the main church, especially the portrayal of Jesus, bound and being interrogated at Caiaphas’ palace. The ceiling is marked with a dominant cross-shaped window. Simple crosses along the walls commemorate the 14 Stations of the Cross.

In the basement of the church, witness a series of caves hewn from the rock. Dating to the Second Temple Period, one of these caves, known as the Sacred Pit, is believed to be the jail where Jesus was held after his arrest. This is consistent with the tradition that the church was built on the location of the palace of Caiaphas, the High Priest. Other caves nearby were used as storage cellars, water cisterns and baths. Nearby is a room where Holy Land pilgrims often stand in individual, reflective prayer.

Outdoors, to the church’s north, are stone stairs leading to the Kidron Valley. It is possible that these stone stairs served as a passage from the Upper City of Jerusalem to the Lower City of Jerusalem in the time of the Temple.

 

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