The olive harvest at Gethsemane

It's harvest time on the Mount of Olives at the Gethsemane Hermitage. Armed with ladders and rakes, young and old people spent a morning harvesting olives. An international and diverse group.

HANNA SJOBERG
Sweden
“I think it’s a nice tradition and it’s also an important work, it has to be done”.

Hanna, with her husband and two daughters, arrived two weeks ago from Sweden. And she reveals a secret:

HANNA SJOBERG
Sweden
“They’re used to picking cherries in Sweden…”

Iaioi is a Japanese musician and singer, invited by the mother of one of her students:

IAIOI OKANIVA
Japan
“Here is Gethsemane, Jesus’ Garden. Picking olives here is ‘something else’, of course”.

DALAL IRIQAT
Ramallah
“We were very excited as a Palestinian family to come to this holy place and do the holy service of picking olives as an engraved rite for the Palestinian in Jerusalem”.

The day begins with a moment of recollection for peace in the Holy Land. Brother Diego, the person in charge of the hermitage, leads it. "God," he says, "is working with us and in us".

Br. DIEGO DALLA GASSA, ofm
Gethsemane Hermitage Director
"It's beautiful to create relationship, a family atmosphere and to see that it's good to gather together here internationally."

Some volunteers involved in the collection are guests of the Hermitage.

MANUELA GIACOBONE
Lugano
"Morning lectio, hour of adoration every day, vespers, Mass, and ... doing like St. Martha! Working by praying and praying by working!"

JONATHAN GOLDIN
Tel Aviv
“I’ve been staying here in Gethsemane for two weeks doing a retreat and meditation, me and my wife. Today is a free day, so we work!”

The cold press is put into operation and the oil begins to come out, an extra virgin of the highest quality. This year's harvest is good and promises abundant production.

Br. DIEGO DALLA GASSA, ofm
Gethsemane Hermitage Director
"We usually use it for us, for the friars of the Custody, and we also give it to the monasteries that are here in Jerusalem."

Different, however, is the destination of the harvest in the "holy garden," the oldest part of Gethsemane, which holds millennia-old olive trees. The kernels are used to make rosaries, while the oil is blessed on the night of Holy Thursday at the Holy Sepulcher and distributed to all parishes in the Holy Land.

Br. SINIŠA SREBRENOVIĆ, ofm
Guardian Convent of Gethsemane - Jerusalem
"It is what the bishop or the patriarch will use either to ordain new priests, to consecrate some churches and also for the sick. So there is a very very deep connection with the mystery of Jesus' passion, and also symbolically we are connected with this oil."

(CMC)