St. Mark narrates, “He sent two of his disciples, and said to them, “Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you; follow him, and wherever he enters, say to the householder, ‘The Teacher says, ‘Where is my guest room, where I am to eat the Passover with my disciples?’ And he will show you a large upper room furnished and ready; there prepare for us.” (Mk 14: 12-16)
The churches (Hagia Zion, Mater Omnia Ecclesiarum) associated with the Cenacle have suffered destruction throughout history. The remnants of the Cenacle and the upper room continue to be a must-see place for Christian pilgrims who come to Jerusalem. It is the room where Jesus ate his last supper with the Apostles, where he instituted the Eucharist anticipating his death and resurrection, where the Apostles appear to have gathered after Jesus’ death. “They went up to the upper room, where they were staying, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot and Judas the son of James. All these with one accord devoted themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.” (Acts 1: 13-14).
The risen Christ appears twice in this place to the Apostles, still fearful because they haven’t received the Holy Spirit. In Jesus’ first appearance, Thomas was not present. Eight days after, Thomas now present, declares his faith in the risen Jesus, “My Lord and my God.” Here in the upper room, the Holy Spirit descended. “When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound came from heaven like the rush of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire, distributed and resting on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2: 1-4).
Although worship is not currently allowed, every year on Pentecost Sunday, the Franciscans in Jerusalem gather for prayers in the Cenacle. Everyone present utters the Lord’s prayer in their own language, allowing the pilgrims to experience in some way Acts 2:4, “And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.”
By Maryann Cenzon