The Small Galilee
At the same peak of the Mount of Olives, which is also called “small Galilee” there are monasteries which were built during the 5th and 6th centuries. At present the place belongs to the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem with the following preserved buildings;
a) A church dedicated to the Apostles, the “Men of Galilee”
b) Christ’s dinner Table
c) The church of Theotokos
The first appearance of the Lord to His disciples after His Resurrection took place in the “Men of Galilee” church of the Apostles. The exact place of the Lord’s appearance is at the Narthex of the church under the Holy Table. According to the gospel of Mark (16:7) the eleven disciples were there as the angel had told them “but go your way, tell his disciples and Peter that He goeth before you into Galilee: there shall yee see Him as He said unto you”. “Then the eleven disciples went into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them. And when they saw Him they worshiped Him…” (Matthew 28:16,17).The disciples were at the same place on Ascension day, watching the Lord ascending into Heaven and hearing the Angels saying to them: “ Ye, men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, which is take up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11). These words are written on the courtyard of the church. The Church is a three-aisled Basilica with three chapels beneath it dedicated to Theotokos, Saint Nikolaos and Saint Mary Magdalene respectively. The crypt under the church is also used as the burial ground for the Patriarchs of Jerusalem. The dinner table of Christ is the place where He appeared to His disciples and ate with them; “… and they gave Him a piece of broiled fish and of a honeycomb. And He took it and did eat before them” (Luke 24:42-43). There is a relevant icon at that place now which illustrates that incident. The Holy Church of the Theotokos is the place where Our Lady held her daily prayers after the Resurrection of the Lord. There, during prayer, Theotokos received the information for Her Dormition and Metastasis from an Angel, who offered her a palm tree branch. Subsequently, Theotokos prepared all necessities for her burial, lay in her bed and slept in the Lord. Then the disciples were gathered there to bury the body of the Theotokos. Some lamentations of the Theotokos’ Epitaph are written on the north wall of the Church, while on the south-west side of it, we find the location where Saint Pelagia led a strict ascetic life and was buried.