Greek Orthodox Church: “But Rabbi,” they said, “a short while ago the Jews tried to stone you, and yet you are going back there?” (John 11:8)
Accessed by foot
Upon the tall Mount Precipice there are many sites to see. Among them, is the unassuming, historically rich Qasr al-Mutran Greek Orthodox Church, though the crumbled remains hardly bear the stamp of a cathedral or even a chapel. This hill, amid the Mount of Precipice is located south of Nazareth on the hills of Kedumim. There are many caves on these hills. One cave is called “Mary’s Cave,” “Cave of the Hermits,” or “Cave of the Leap.” All these are steeped in the religious tradition that an angry mob tried to push Jesus off the cliff, causing Mary to weep and subsequent hermits to meditate on this mournful event.
Pope Benedict XVI performed a mass celebration in May 2009 at the Qasr al-Mutran Greek Orthodox Church ruins. The church’s name means “hill of the bishop.” The Pope chose this spot because it is visible from all of Nazareth and provides an exquisite panorama of the Valley below.
Apart from religious tradition, the other side of the Precipice displays a cave of the “Qafzeh Man.” According to some paleontologists, his remains could provide information on the Neanderthal Man. His remains were found in 1933 but answered many of the questions plaguing paleontologists of that era.
Historically, it is doubtful this is the spot where the hermits mourned the poor treatment of Jesus, or even that it is the location Jesus was chased to. However, early Christians “relocated” Mount Precipice to its current location to accommodate visitors and to provide tourists with a more scenic overlook.
Qasr al-Mutran Greek Orthodox Church was built in 1862 with generous funds from a rich Russian Duchess named Maria Kislivia. Maria Kislivia was a Greek Orthodox member and wanted to provide a place of meditation and solace to the bishop.
Next to it, a home for the visiting Bishop and his helpers was erected. Through disuse and the harsh elements, only remains of the once utilitarian chapel and hostel are left standing. The paintings of saints, however, still remain on the dilapidated walls.