JERUSALEM – Gethsemane, the place where according to Christian tradition Jesus would rest after teaching, welcomed on Saturday dozens of people who eagerly took part in the first olive harvest of the season.
“Look at the view and imagine what it was like when Jesus was here,” Father Diego Dalla Gassa told a group of 30 volunteers while pointing at the center of Jerusalem’s Old City, where it rises with its domes, walls and houses of white stone in front of the Mount of Olives, where the orchard is.
According to the Christian teachings, Jesus visited those places and admired the old city from this site.
The volunteers, who wore comfortable clothes, were from Italy, France, Switzerland, Sweden, Philippines, India and Mexico among others.
The more devout participants found the experience very emotional.
“The meaning of this garden, here in Jerusalem, is to understand that we are together and we are a family,” Franciscan Dalla Gassa, who launched this initiative four years ago, told EFE.
After prayers, participants got to work and started to harvest the black olives from the trees under warm sun and with the Temple Mount in sight.
“It is the first time I do this and I consider it a service for others, to be able to contribute to something very simple with my small offering,” Martha Navarros Correa, an Argentine citizen who lives in the Palestinian city of Bethlehem, told EFE.
Joining Navarros was Mexican Dulce Itzel Doroteo, who was excited and told EFE what this activity means to her:
“It is to give everything from within, from my depths, to squeeze it out well, just like oil is squeezed, and as such to extract my life towards the Lord,” the Mexican mused.
The olive harvest lasted for four hours and will resume on Sunday overseen by the Franciscans who take care of over 900 trees on the site.
After the harvest, olives are sent to Latrun Trappist in Israel, where the oil is extracted and then distributed among different religious communities in the Holy Land and across the world.