August 3, 2021

The oil "without price" of the thousand-year-old olive trees of Gethsemane

The oil "without price" of the thousand-year-old olive trees of Gethsemane

The Franciscans opened today the doors of the protected Garden of Gethsemane, in East Jerusalem, for the traditional olive harvest between the olive groves where, according to Christian tradition, Jesus Christ preached, and with which they will make an oil "that is priceless" "

"It is an oil that we recognize is unique in the world but we do not want it to become a business, we use it and give bottles to some pilgrims, then if they want to make a donation, they can do it, but this oil is priceless," he says. Efe father Diego.

Each year, dozens of volunteers join this activity that today led this Franciscan and began in front of the Church of All Nations that stands next to the "holy garden", a small space where wide trunks reflect the antiquity of two thousand years of its olive trees

Gethsemane, explains Father Diego, comes from the Hebrew and Aramaic language "gat-shemen" and means "olive press" which indicates the tradition of this activity, but the place is also marked by its biblical meaning.

"In the Jewish tradition, it is known that the Messiah, in the shekinah (where God manifests himself before his people), will descend on this side to enter Jerusalem, for us, the Christians, it is also the place where Jesus loves to come. During the day he taught in the temple and at night spent the night outdoors, on the so-called Mount of Olives, "he explains.

On this hill, where the Getsemaní garden, now fenced and partially guarding several Christian churches, extends, Manuela Pegorario of Italy collects olives for the first time with the background of the walled Old City and the protruding Golden Dome of the Esplanade of the Mosques.

"It is a strong thing to be with other volunteers and Franciscans, in this place that is very important for us, for all Christians, I do not think you need to believe much to feel something," says Pegorario to Efe.

The Franciscans take care of more than 900 trees, whose olives they collect every year and send to the Monastery of Latrún, in the center of Israel, waiting to receive a press with which to prepare the oil immediately so that it does not lose quality. With the bones of the fruit they make rosaries.

Nicoleta Zannoni, from Italy and resident in the West Bank town of Ramallah for seven years, is opening this year dragging the fruits with a rake that drops into large canvases, a practice he has seen his Palestinian friends do, on festive days, where "families meet, eat and are together".

Pegorario also highlights the importance that this activity represents in Palestine, where around 40% of the economy is supported by the olive tree, from the production of oil and soaps, to the oil that it buys from local producers who sell in "soft drink bottles". "Recycled.

"I think that for the Palestinians and the local people who have always had trees is very important, it is a tradition but also for the economy, we know there are problems in the West Bank," he says of the approximately 100,000 Palestinian families who carry out the harvest in small fields, affected by the Israeli occupation and the colonies.

On the slopes of the West Bank town of Al Walaja, near Bethlehem, survives what is considered the oldest olive tree, the Badawi, between 4,000 and 5,000 years.

The collection campaign, which began today in the so-called land of olive trees, will last approximately one month and the Franciscans will continue to open the doors of the Garden of Gethsemane until the harvest ends, which this year "has not been neither bad nor good". Father Diego.

Laura Fernández Palomo


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