The Sacred Dungeon

Jesus had finished praying in the Garden of Gethsemane and went to meet his disciples who had accompanied Him.

At that very moment Judas, one of His other disciples came into the Garden alongwith some guards of Caiaphas and got Jesus arrested.
Now Caiaphas was a Jewish high priest who was against Jesus and His teachings and so plotted to arrest and kill Him. He influenced Judas to betray Jesus by giving him thirty silver coins.

The painting below depicts Judas kissing Jesus, which was a sign to the guards to “arrest this man”.

Judas kissing Jesus

Jesus was taken to the house of Caiaphas and imprisoned in the underground caves present in the house. He was mocked and beaten that night.

The next morning all the priests gathered for a consultation. They were convinced that Jesus should die as His influence was spreading far and wide and the priests were afraid that the people would start following Him.
After much discussion they took Jesus to Pontius Pilate for a final decision.

Now, who was Pontius Pilate? He was a high ranking Roman official who served under the Roman Emperor of that time. He played a pivotal role in deciding the fate of Jesus.

Jesus being tried in the house of Caiaphas

Coming back to the present day, the house of Caiaphas is no more. In its place stands a beautiful church dedicated to Peter known as the Church of St. Peter. The church is located on the slopes of Mount Zion in the area known as Gallicantu.

The Church has a sanctuary which has the main altar. Below this sanctuary are the caves also known as the Sacred Dungeon.


A a stone sculpture of Jesus being arrested and held prisoner is found before the entrance to the caves.The pain felt by Jesus after being beaten and tortured comes out strongly through the sculpture. 


The opening to the dungeon is a round hole from which Jesus was lowered inside. After being beaten and tortured, He had to pass a difficult night inside a cold, damp and dark dungeon.

We were allowed to go into the dungeon and spend some time reflecting about the night Jesus spent there.
Seen below is the view from above the dungeon, covered with a glass case, the view from inside the dungeon and the floor of the dungeon.


The sanctuary on the upper level is a beautiful blend of paintings and intricate mosaics . The striking feature is the stained glass Cross on the ceiling, dominating the domed roof. It radiates bright light into the Church. Colorful mosaics elaborately done are found across the walls and alcoves throughout the Church. These are a common architectural feature of this region.

On the outside the Church of St Peter has a golden rooster on top of a black cross which stands tall on the domed roof.

View of the the Church of St. Peter in Gallicantu

So why has the house of Caiaphas, now become the Church of St. Peter?

One of Jesus’disciples, Peter, had  followed Jesus to Caiaphas’ house. In the morning when Jesus was brought outside, Peter denied knowing Jesus three times when questioned by the servants and people around. He was afraid that he too would be arrested for knowing Jesus.

This made the prophecy of Jesus come true, where Peter would deny knowing Him three times before the cock crew. Galli-cantu means cockcrow in Latin.

The rooster on the roof symbolizes the triple denial of Peter knowing Jesus. The church was built to commemorate this denial.

In my next post you will know what did Pontius Pilate do to Jesus. For more stories about my visit to the Holyland read – Holyland

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