Notre Dame De Sion Ecce Homo Convent

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These authentic ruins were discovered in 1857 during the building of a school by Fr. Ratisbonne. The silence which pervades them offer the person of faith space for reflection and prayer

The site where we find the Ecce Home Convent of the Sisters of Sion contains important remains from Roman times. Since the Crusaders, Christian tradition has placed the beginning of the Via Dolorosa in this area. Here we recall Christ’s suffering at the hands of the Roman soldiers and his trial by Pontius Pilate. The name “Ecce Homo” refers to John 19:5 : “Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them: “Behold the man“.

These remains, among the best preserved in the country, are:
•    cistern – the Struthion Pool (a greek word meaning sparrow)
•    pavement with “The Game of the King”
•    arch (built by Hadrian, 135 C.E.)

The Roman Pavement in the Via Dolorosa

Photo: Ron Peled

Recent archaeological studies lead us to believe that the Convent is built just north of the Antonia Fortress. This fortress, built on a rock platform surrounded with a moat, was built by Herod the Great around 30 B.C.E. It served to protect the city against attacks from the north, as well as enabling the Roman soldiers to control the Temple area. See Flavius Josephus: “War of the Jews”.

The Struthion Pool
A canal, constructed at the time of the Hasmoneans (2nd century B.C.E), provided water to the Temple Mount cisterns. Herod destroyed part of the canal when he built a moat around the Fortress Antonia. A water reservoir (the Struthion Pool) was dug into this moat to serve the fortress and its environs. This pool was later vaulted over and turned into a cistern by Hadrian (in 135 C.E.). A large portion of the Convent was constructed above the remains of the cistern.

The Struthion Pool in the Sisters of Zion Convent

Photo: Ron Peled

•    The Roman pavement was laid by Hadrian above the vault of the cistern.
It served as a plaza and market place to Aelia Capitolina (the name Hadrian gave to his new city, built in 135 C.E. on the ruins of Jerusalem, destroyed by Titus in 70 C.E.). This pavement was made from the large court yard stones of the Antonia which was destroyed in 70 C.E.

Hadrian erected a triple Arch as a gate to the plaza
The largest of these arches is known as the “Ecce Homo Arch”. It spans the Via Dolorosa and continues into the Basilica where the smaller northern section can be seen.

Today this arch marks the place where the Church remembers the trial of Jesus before Pilate. The basilica was built in 1918 and was called Basilica of the Crowning of Thorns.

   “Ecce Homo”
“Behold the Man.”
John 19:5

For many centuries pilgrims have come to the Holy Land, nourishing and strengthening their faith as they walk in the footsteps of Jesus. Prayer, contemplation of these mysteries of His life, of His Passion and of His Resurrection, the faithfulness of the Church, have made holy these places where the mysteries are recalled. Here the words of Scripture resound with a particular power:

“On him lies a punishment that brings us peace and through his wounds we are healed.”                                                                   Isaiah 53:5

“Mine is not a kingdom of this world.”
John 18:36

“Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you… naked and clothe you, sick or in prison and go to see you? I tell you solemnly, in so far as you did this to one of the least of these brothers of mine you did it to me.”
Matt. 25:37-40

“For he is the peace between us… actually destroying in his own person the hostility.”
Eph. 2:14

The Ecce Homo Arch in the Via Dolorosa

Photo: Ron Peled

Two communities welcome you:  

THE SISTERS OF NOTRE DAME DE SION. Their charism is to give witness in the church and in the world to God’s love for the Jewish people. Central to this ministry is study of the Word of God and a focus on reconciliation between peoples. This international congregation has both apostolic and contemplative Sisters.

THE CHEMIN NEUF COMMUNITY is a Roman Catholic community with an ecumenical vocation influenced both by the spirituality of St lgnatius of Loyola and by the charismatic Renewal. Couples, families, consecrated celibates, Christians of different denominations share community. This apostolic community responds to a call to unity: among Christians, individuals, couples, and families.

•    Visiting hours: 8:00 am – 5:00 pm
•    Open only for prayer on Good Friday
•    Guides are asked to give their explanations only in the “amphitheatres”.
•    The house does not provide guides.
•    However, the personnel is available for assistance.
•    In order to view the Arch, enter by the outside door which comes before the front door, it opens from the Via Dolorosa.

Places offered for prayer or liturgy
•    the Basilica
•    the Lithostrotos before 8:00 am & after 8:00 pm.

Reserve the place with date and time of your choice by writing or phoning the Ecce Homo Convent.

Via Dolorosa 41-POB 19056 – 91190 Jerusalem
Tel: +972 (0)2 627 72 92  –  Fax: +972 (0)2 628 22 24
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