On the way up from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, among turns and bends of the hilly scenery, lies the village of Abu Gosh. It is a Christian-Arab village built on a mountainside. Looking up from its lowest point, you see a charming and picturesque village. I saw so many churches and holy sites during our February pilgrimage, but perhaps it was at the end of the trip, this church, near Emmaus, remains very vivid in my mind.
The village of Abu Gosh was first settled over 6,000 years ago. In the biblical period, it was known as Kiryat Ye'arim, and was a ceremonial center where the Ark of the Covenant was placed. In the Byzantine era (some 1,500 years ago), Kiryat Ye’arim became a holy place and a church was built in the village. During the Crusader Period (about 1,000 years ago), the village was ascribed as the place where Jesus revealed himself after his resurrection and the Benedictine Monastery was built. The monastery is one of the most beautiful buildings preserved from the Crusader Period, and can still be visited. It is located in the heart of a well-tended garden with ancient trees. Impressive frescoes are painted on the inner walls, and a fountain flows from the crypt at the base of the monastery. One of the things that fascinated me was that when the Muslims gained control of this monastery after the Crusades, they removed the faces on the frescoes as their religion does not believe in imagery. Our tour guide said it was unusual that they left the painting themselves. They remain the way the Muslims left them.
When I returned home and did a little research, I found that Abu Ghosh is also the site of a famous annual music festival and a restaurant there is also in the Guinness Book of World Records as making the largest hummus serving.
Below is a lovely introduction of the Benedictine Monastery in Abu Gosh prepared by iTravel Jerusalem.
This video, however, has really moved me because it includes both the Muslim call to prayer followed by the choir in the Benedictine Monastery.
This is my close-up of one of the faceless frescoes.
This is an exquisite carved and painted wood fold-up confessional.