Questions Continue to Loom Over Mount Zion as Pope Prepares to Visit Israel

The Pope is coming to town and an historic agreement between Israel and the Vatican seems imminent. Reports and rumors are rife concerning the status of a Catholic shrine (the Cenacle) which sits directly above the traditional Tomb of King David, located on the grounds of the Diaspora Yeshiva on Mount Zion.


Arutz 7 reported that "Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's Office (PMO) released a statement Thursday affirming that Israel will not, despite earlier reports, give away Mount Zion -- including King David's tomb -- to the Vatican". 


Seven months ago Deputy Foreign Minister Zeev Elkin also made an attempt to allay concerns over the status of Mount Zion. However as far as Jewishisrael is concerned, Elkin's reassurances fell short.


JewishIsrael hopes that the government denials of relinquishing land and control do not amount to red herrings, as there remain unanswered questions regarding reports that the Franciscans will be granted "administrative control" of the Cenacle, while Israel will retain official ownership. Apparently this also includes the rights to hold regular Catholic Mass above the Tomb of King David. Following is a sampling of this past year's reports from the Italian, Catholic and Israeli Press:  

  • "The Cenacle, the building on Mt. Zion which houses the “Upper Room” where Jesus and his disciples held the Last Supper will once again be open for Catholic worship, it has been announced by spokesmen for the Vatican, the Israeli government and the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land. The agreement, which is part of overall negotiations over the use of land owned by the church in Israel allows for Franciscan administrative control of the site, while ownership will remain with Israel, according to Fr. Peter Vasko, president of the Franciscan Foundation for the Holy Land (FFHL).” ---PR WEB –Press release by The Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land, June 8, 2013


  • “A structure on Mt. Zion known as the Cenacle, where the Last Supper is believed to have taken place, will become open to Catholic worship once again, Italian newspaper La Stampa reported. The site will be administered by the Franciscan order but ownership will remain with Israel. The structure, also known as the “Upper Room,” rests above what’s believed to be King David’s Tomb, although many archaeologists differ on whether the Jewish king was actually buried there.” --- Times of Israel, June 6, 2013

  • “The Cenacle on Mount Zion where, according to Christian tradition, the Last Supper was held, will become a Catholic place of worship once again.” --- La Stampa-Vatican Insider, May 28 2013

  • “Over the past few years, the Vatican and Israeli delegations have been working on a solution that involves ownership of the Cenacle, the two small rooms adjacent to it and the staircase providing access to it, be transferred to the Custody of the Holy Land. The Israeli state would maintain ownership of the convent that was built by the Franciscans (trying to ensure spaces are not given to new tenants other than the already existing ones) and the area surrounding the Tomb of David, beneath the Cenacle. This, however, may not be the final solution the Vatican has been hoping for. Peres’ words on the Cenacle and the possibility of allowing Christians celebrate mass there, seem to indicate this. Israel would grant the Pope special authority over the Cenacle, indicating that the ownership of one of the most important holy sites in Christianity will not be returned to the Christians.” --- La Stampa-Vatican Insider, April 30, 2013


  • "A historical agreement has been signed between Israel and the Vatican, ending a 20 year dispute. Israel has granted the pope an official seat in the room where the Last Supper is believed to have taken place, on Mount Zion in Jerusalem. Israel did not give up its control over the room, as the Vatican had demanded, but Israel did decide to allow Vatican representatives a special modicum of control over the site." --- Israel Hayom, January 30, 2013


JewishIsrael remains concerned and will continue to follow developments closely.  A list of related links to past JewishIsrael reports and videos on Israel-Vatican relations can be found below. Readers can also use JewishIsrael’s website search facility to explore a comprehensive collection of materials regarding the Vatican and Mount Zion.

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