88 PICTURESQUE PALESTINE.
tomb chamber. In its present state the chapel has little in common with the to h •
the neighbourhood of Jerusalem. The Chapel of the Tomb of the Virgin was rebu'lt-
Millicent, the wife of Fulke, fourth king of Jerusalem, since which time it has appare tl
received little alteration.
On the right-hand side of the road is the Garden of Gethsemane (see page 86), a sm 11
enclosure surrounded by a high wall. The ground is laid out in flower beds, which a
carefully tended by a Franciscan monk; but the most interesting objects are the venerabl
olive-trees, which are said to date from the time of Christ, and which may, in truth, be direct
descendants of trees which grew in the same place at the time of the Crucifixion. A tradition
at least as old as the fourth century, identifies this plot of ground with the garden to which
Jesus was wont to retire with His disciples.
The Church of the Ascension, on the Mount of Olives (see page 90), is a small
octagonal chapel, surmounted by a circular drum and dome, standing in the centre of a paved
court. The bases and capitals of the columns, taken from older buildings, are of white
marble. At the east end of the open court the Greeks, Armenians, Syrians, and Copts
have altars. A tradition connecting the Mount of Olives with our Lord's Ascension existed
at a very early period, though in direct contradiction to the words of St. Luke, who says,
"He led them out as far as Bethany, and He lifted up his hands and blessed them. And it
came to pass, while He blessed them, He was parted from them and carried up into heaven."
Eusebius mentions the large number of pilgrims who came from all parts of the world to
worship on the Mount of Olives; and the Empress Helena, in erecting a basilica on the spot,
about 333 a.d., only perpetuated the existing tradition.
The road from the Mount of Olives to Bethany for about five hundred yards follows the
south side of the hill; it then turns abruptly to the south and crosses the narrow ridge which
joins the Mount of Olives to the hill above Bethany. Upon the ridge the Crusaders placed
Bethphage (see page 92), and here, in 1877, the ruins of a mediaeval church, with its apse,
were discovered, enclosing an isolated block of rock ornamented with paintings and inscriptions. The rock is about three feet high, and its position in the chapel, on the north side and
probably between two columns of the nave, is remarkable. On the south side, facing Bethany,
there is a fresco representing the raising of Lazarus ; on the north side, facing Olivet, the
disciples are represented as having just obtained permission to take the ass and the foal; on
the east face the subject of the fresco appears to have been the consecration of the chapel;
and on the west, figures are seen bearing palm-branches, perhaps part of a fresco representing
our Lord's triumphal entry into Jerusalem. The inscriptions may be ascribed beyond doubt
to the twelfth century, and the name Bernard Witard occurs on one of the faces. In the
cartulary of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre the' name of Johannes Guitarcl (Witard) is
found, and Mons. Ganneau conjectures that Bernard belonged to the same family and defrayed
the expenses of the monument. The paintings are sadly damaged, but they are said " to
remind one of illuminations in a precious missal rather than an ordinary fresco drawn to hide
the naked stone."