Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Church of St. Peter in Gallicantu

Just outside the city of Jerusalem, the Church of St. Peter in Gallicantu is located on the eastern slope of Mount Zion.  This church commemorates Peter's denial of Christ, his repentance, and his reconciliation with Christ after the Resurrection. 
Beautiful gardens surround the church and a golden rooster sits atop a black cross on the roof.  Galli-cantu actually means "cockcrow" in Latin referring to Matthew 26:34:
"Jesus said to him, "Truly I say to you that this very night, 
before a rooster crows, you will deny me three times."
All four Gospels note Peter's denial and three of the Gospels also record his bitter tears of remorse in the courtyard of the high priest Caiaphas.  The Church of St. Peter was built over the ruins of a Byzantine basilica, which is believed to be on the site of the Caiaphas' house.

Matthew 26:69-75

Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard, and a servant-girl came to him and said, "You too were with Jesus the Galilean."  But he denied it before them all, saying, "I do not know what you are talking about."  When he had gone out to the gateway, another servant-girl saw him and said to those who were there, "This man was with Jesus of Nazareth."  And again he denied it with an oath, "I do not know the man."  A little later the bystanders came up and said to Peter, "Surely you too are one of them; for even the way you talk gives you away."  Then he began to curse and swear, "I do not know the man!" And immediately a rooster crowed.  And Peter remembered the word which Jesus had said, "Before a rooster crows, you will deny Me three times." And he went out and wept bitterly.
There is a dungeon underneath the church where many believe Jesus was detained the night before he was crucified.  The prisoner's cell was shaped out of bedrock and the guardroom contains fixtures to attach prisoners' chains to the wall.  As you can see in the picture below, holes in the stone would have been used to hold a prisoner's hands and feet while he was flogged.  The prisoner would have been lowered/raised into the cell through a shaft above by using a rope harness.  There is a mosaic on the side of the church that depicts Jesus in this type of harness.  

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