Cenacle

Cenacle

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This article is about the location of the Last Supper
Last Supper
The Last Supper is the final meal that, according to Christian belief, Jesus shared with his Twelve Apostles in Jerusalem before his crucifixion. The Last Supper provides the scriptural basis for the Eucharist, also known as "communion" or "the Lord's Supper".The First Epistle to the Corinthians is...

. For the Paris
Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

ian literary group, see Cénacle
Cénacle
Cénacle is the name given to a Parisian literary group of varying constituency that began about 1826 to gather around Charles Nodier. The group sought to revive in French literature the old monarchical spirit, the spirit of mediæval mystery and spiritual submission. The chief members were Vigny...

. For the improper noun, see cenacle.


The Cenacle (from Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 cenaculum), also known as the "Upper Room", is the term used for the site of The Last Supper
Last Supper
The Last Supper is the final meal that, according to Christian belief, Jesus shared with his Twelve Apostles in Jerusalem before his crucifixion. The Last Supper provides the scriptural basis for the Eucharist, also known as "communion" or "the Lord's Supper".The First Epistle to the Corinthians is...

. The word is a derivative of the Latin word cena, which means dinner
Dinner
Dinner is usually the name of the main meal of the day. Depending upon culture, dinner may be the second, third or fourth meal of the day. Originally, though, it referred to the first meal of the day, eaten around noon, and is still occasionally used for a noontime meal, if it is a large or main...

.

In Christian
Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

 tradition, based on Acts 1:13, the "Upper Room" was not only the site of the Last Supper (i.e. the Cenacle), but the usual place where the Apostle
Apostle (Christian)
The term apostle is derived from Classical Greek ἀπόστολος , meaning one who is sent away, from στέλλω + από . The literal meaning in English is therefore an "emissary", from the Latin mitto + ex...

s stayed in Jerusalem
Jerusalem in Christianity
For Christians, Jerusalem's place in the ministry of Jesus and the Apostolic Age gives it great importance, in addition to its place in the Old Testament, the Hebrew Bible.-Jerusalem in the New Testament and early Christianity:...

, and according to the Catholic Encyclopedia
Catholic Encyclopedia
The Catholic Encyclopedia, also referred to as the Old Catholic Encyclopedia and the Original Catholic Encyclopedia, is an English-language encyclopedia published in the United States. The first volume appeared in March 1907 and the last three volumes appeared in 1912, followed by a master index...

 "the first Christian church".

Thus the Cenacle is considered the site where many other events described in the New Testament
New Testament
The New Testament is the second major division of the Christian biblical canon, the first such division being the much longer Old Testament....

 took place, such as:
  • the Washing of the Feet
  • some resurrection appearances of Jesus
    Resurrection appearances of Jesus
    The major Resurrection appearances of Jesus in the Canonical gospels are reported to have occurred after his death, burial and resurrection, but prior to his Ascension. Among these primary sources, most scholars believe First Corinthians was written first, authored by Paul of Tarsus along with...

  • the gathering of the disciples
    Disciple (Christianity)
    In Christianity, the disciples were the students of Jesus during his ministry. While Jesus attracted a large following, the term disciple is commonly used to refer specifically to "the Twelve", an inner circle of men whose number perhaps represented the twelve tribes of Israel...

     after the Ascension of Jesus
  • the election of Saint Matthias
    Saint Matthias
    Matthias , according to the Acts of the Apostles, was the apostle chosen by the remaining eleven apostles to replace Judas Iscariot following Judas' betrayal of Jesus and his suicide.-Biography:...

     as apostle
  • the descent of the Holy Spirit
    Holy Spirit
    Holy Spirit is a term introduced in English translations of the Hebrew Bible, but understood differently in the main Abrahamic religions.While the general concept of a "Spirit" that permeates the cosmos has been used in various religions Holy Spirit is a term introduced in English translations of...

     upon the disciples on the day of Pentecost
    Pentecost
    Pentecost is a prominent feast in the calendar of Ancient Israel celebrating the giving of the Law on Sinai, and also later in the Christian liturgical year commemorating the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples of Christ after the Resurrection of Jesus...


The site


Since at least the fourth century CE
Christianity in the 4th century
Christianity in the 4th century was dominated by Constantine the Great, and the First Council of Nicea of 325, which was the beginning of the period of the First seven Ecumenical Councils and the attempt to reach an orthodox consensus and to establish a unified Christendom as the State church of...

 a structure identified as the Cenacle, the site of the Last Supper, has been a popular Christian pilgrimage
Christian pilgrimage
Christian pilgrimage was first made to sites connected with the ministry of Jesus. Surviving descriptions of Christian pilgrimages to the Holy Land and Jerusalem date from the 4th century, when pilgrimage was encouraged by church fathers like Saint Jerome and established by Helena, the mother of...

 site on Mount Sion
Mount Sion
Mount Sion is a Gaelic Athletic Association club located in Waterford City, County Waterford, Ireland, founded by Brs O'Connor and Malone, teachers in the above school...

in Jerusalem. It is documented in the narratives of many early pilgrims such as Egeria, who visited it in 384. The building has experienced numerous cycles of destruction and reconstruction, culminating in the Gothic structure which stands today.

While the term “Cenacle” refers only to the “Upper Room,” the site is connected to other points of interest, including a large cenotaph
Cenotaph
A cenotaph is an "empty tomb" or a monument erected in honour of a person or group of people whose remains are elsewhere. It can also be the initial tomb for a person who has since been interred elsewhere. The word derives from the Greek κενοτάφιον = kenotaphion...

 in the lower level, said first by 12th century
Christianity in the 12th century
-Monastic Reform Movement:The next wave of monastic reform came with the Cistercian Movement. The first Cistercian abbey was founded by Robert of Molesme in 1098, at Cîteaux Abbey. The keynote of Cistercian life was a return to a literal observance of the Rule of Saint Benedict...

 Crusaders to be the tomb of King David. However, most scholars consider this attribution to be incorrect; 1 Kings 2:10 says that David was buried “in the City of David,” an area of Jerusalem geographically disparate from Mount Sion. The Cenacle is also connected to the Church of the Dormition.

History




The early history of the Cenacle site is uncertain; scholars have made attempts at establishing a chronology based on archaeological evidence and historical sources. Biblical archaeologist
Biblical archaeology
For the movement associated with William F. Albright and also known as biblical archaeology, see Biblical archaeology school. For the interpretation of biblical archaeology in relation to biblical historicity, see The Bible and history....

 Bargil Pixner
Bargil Pixner
Bargil Pixner was an Italian Benedictine monk, Biblical scholar and archaeologist, and Benedictine authority on the Dead Sea scrolls.- Biography :...

 offers these significant dates and events in the building's history.

The original building was a synagogue
Synagogue
A synagogue is a Jewish house of prayer. This use of the Greek term synagogue originates in the Septuagint where it sometimes translates the Hebrew word for assembly, kahal...

 later probably used by Jewish Christians
Jewish Christians
Jewish Christians is a term which appears in historical texts contrasting Christians of Jewish origin with Gentile Christians, both in discussion of the New Testament church and the second and following centuries....

. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia
Catholic Encyclopedia
The Catholic Encyclopedia, also referred to as the Old Catholic Encyclopedia and the Original Catholic Encyclopedia, is an English-language encyclopedia published in the United States. The first volume appeared in March 1907 and the last three volumes appeared in 1912, followed by a master index...

, the building was spared during the destruction of Jerusalem
Siege of Jerusalem (70)
The Siege of Jerusalem in the year 70 AD was the decisive event of the First Jewish-Roman War. The Roman army, led by the future Emperor Titus, with Tiberius Julius Alexander as his second-in-command, besieged and conquered the city of Jerusalem, which had been occupied by its Jewish defenders in...

 under Titus
Titus
Titus , was Roman Emperor from 79 to 81. A member of the Flavian dynasty, Titus succeeded his father Vespasian upon his death, thus becoming the first Roman Emperor to come to the throne after his own father....

 (AD 70), though Pixner thinks it was likely rebuilt right after the war, and claims three walls of that structure are still extant: the North, East and South walls of the present King David's Tomb. Roman
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

 emperor Theodosius I
Theodosius I
Theodosius I , also known as Theodosius the Great, was Roman Emperor from 379 to 395. Theodosius was the last emperor to rule over both the eastern and the western halves of the Roman Empire. During his reign, the Goths secured control of Illyricum after the Gothic War, establishing their homeland...

 built an octagonal church (the "Theodosian Church" or "Holy Zion Church") aside the synagogue (that was named "Church of the Apostles"). The Theodosian Church, probably started on 382 AD, was consecrated by John II, Bishop of Jerusalem on 394 AD. Some years later, c. 415 AD, Bishop John II enlarged the Holy Zion Church transforming it in a large rectangular basilica
Basilica
The Latin word basilica , was originally used to describe a Roman public building, usually located in the forum of a Roman town. Public basilicas began to appear in Hellenistic cities in the 2nd century BC.The term was also applied to buildings used for religious purposes...

 with five nave
Nave
In Romanesque and Gothic Christian abbey, cathedral basilica and church architecture, the nave is the central approach to the high altar, the main body of the church. "Nave" was probably suggested by the keel shape of its vaulting...

s, always aside the Church of the Apostles. This building was later destroyed by Persian invaders in 614 AD and shortly after partially rebuilt by patriarch Modestus
Modestus of Jerusalem
Modestus of Jerusalem was a Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, who is commemorated as a saint by the Orthodox church, on May 17, March 29 or December 17 in the Palestinian-Georgian calendar venerates him or December 16 and October 19 in the Acta Sanctorum.He was born in Cappadocian Sebasteia...

. In 1009 AD the church was razed to the ground by the Muslim
Muslim
A Muslim, also spelled Moslem, is an adherent of Islam, a monotheistic, Abrahamic religion based on the Quran, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God as revealed to prophet Muhammad. "Muslim" is the Arabic term for "submitter" .Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable...

 caliph Al-Hakim
Al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah
Abu ‘Ali Mansur Tāriqu l-Ḥākim, called Al-Hakim bi Amr al-Lāh , was the sixth Fatimid caliph and 16th Ismaili imam .- History :...

 and shortly after replaced by the Crusaders
Crusades
The Crusades were a series of religious wars, blessed by the Pope and the Catholic Church with the main goal of restoring Christian access to the holy places in and near Jerusalem...

 with a five aisled basilica named for "Saint Mary
Mary (mother of Jesus)
Mary , commonly referred to as "Saint Mary", "Mother Mary", the "Virgin Mary", the "Blessed Virgin Mary", or "Mary, Mother of God", was a Jewish woman of Nazareth in Galilee...

". It is thought that the Cenacle occupied a portion of two aisles on the right side of the altar.

While the church was destroyed sometime after 1219, the Cenacle was spared. In the 1340s, it passed into the custody of the Franciscan Order of Friars, who maintained the structure until 1552, when the Ottoman Empire took possession of it. After the Franciscan friars' eviction, this room was transformed into a mosque
Mosque
A mosque is a place of worship for followers of Islam. The word is likely to have entered the English language through French , from Portuguese , from Spanish , and from Berber , ultimately originating in — . The Arabic word masjid literally means a place of prostration...

, as evidenced by the mihrab
Mihrab
A mihrab is semicircular niche in the wall of a mosque that indicates the qibla; that is, the direction of the Kaaba in Mecca and hence the direction that Muslims should face when praying...

 in the direction of Mecca
Mecca
Mecca is a city in the Hijaz and the capital of Makkah province in Saudi Arabia. The city is located inland from Jeddah in a narrow valley at a height of above sea level...

 and an Arabic
Arabic language
Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD, used most prominently in the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book...

 inscription prohibiting public prayer at the site. Christians were not allowed to return until the establishment of the State of Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

 in 1948.

Architecture


Scholars offer wide-ranging dates and builders for the surviving Gothic-style Cenacle. Some believe that it was constructed by Crusaders just before Saladin’s conquest of Jerusalem in 1187, while others attribute it to Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II, after he arrived in the city in 1229. Still others hold that it was not built in this form until the Franciscans acquired the site in the 1330s. Scarce documentation and disturbed structural features offer little strong support for any of these dates.

In its current state, the Cenacle is divided into six rib-vaulted bays. The bays are supported by three freestanding columns which bilaterally divide the space, as well as six pillars flanking the side walls. While the capital of the westernmost freestanding column is flush with the Cenacle’s interior wall, the column shaft itself is completely independent of the wall, leading scholars to consider the possibility that this wall was not original to the building.

An analysis of the column and pillar capitals offers clues, but not a solution, to the mystery of the current building’s origin. The Corinthianesque capital between the second and third bays of the Cenacle is stylistically indicative of multiple geographical regions and chronological periods. This capital’s spiky leaves, which tightly adhere to the volume of the column before erupting into scrolls, are in congruence with common outputs of the 12th century sculpture workshop at the Temple site in Jerusalem in the last years before Saladin’s conquest in 1187. The workshop also frequently utilized drilling as an ornamental device. The Jerusalem workshop included artists from diverse regions in the West, who brought stylistic traits with them from their native countries. The workshop produced sculpture for many Crusader projects and other structures, such as the al-Aqsa mosque.

This comparison allows for the support of the 12th century date of the Cenacle. There are also, however, similar capitals which originated in workshops in southern Italy, a draw for scholars who wish to associate the building with Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II and the Sixth Crusade in 1229. Examples can be seen in the Romanesque cathedral in Bitanto, a small city near Bari, in southern Italy, and on column supports of the pulpit in the Pisa Baptistery, carved by Apulian-born sculptor Nicola Pisano around 1260.

The capitals of the freestanding columns are not identical. The capital between the first and second bays seems either severely weathered or shallowly carved, and its volume is a marked contrast from the others. It rises from the shaft in a straight cylinder, rather than in an inverted pyramid, and then flares only just before it intersects with the abacus. The third capital, which now flanks the Cenacle’s western wall, is also unique among the three. It is not decorated with a floral motif, rather, scrolling crockets spring from the base of the volume. Enlart has proposed a comparison to buildings constructed by Frederick II in Apulia.

Analysis of these column capitals does not yield significant evidence to link them to the 14th century and a potential Franciscan construction, nor does it definitively date them to the 12th or 13th century. The building remains a frustrating, but intriguing, mystery.

Other sites


The Syriac Orthodox Church
Syriac Orthodox Church
The Syriac Orthodox Church; is an autocephalous Oriental Orthodox church based in the Eastern Mediterranean, with members spread throughout the world. The Syriac Orthodox Church claims to derive its origin from one of the first Christian communities, established in Antioch by the Apostle St....

 monastery of Saint Mark near the Armenian Quarter
Armenian Quarter
The Armenian Quarter is one of the four quarters of the Old City of Jerusalem. The Armenian Quarter is the smallest of the four quarters, with the smallest number of residents....

, in the Old City of Jerusalem, is sometime considered as alternative place for the cenacle.

External links