Holy places can make for strong disagreements when two competing nationalities desire the same region.

This certainly is true of the ongoing disputes between the Palestine Arabs and Israel.

Inside the walled city of Jerusalem is the Dome of the Rock, a beautiful octagonal Muslim Mosque built in 691 AD that contains Mount Moriah, an identified place where Abraham was tempted to sacrifice his son Isaac.

From this site, according to devout Muslims, Mohammed ascended into heaven and returned to earth again. Muslims are called to prayer five times a day by an imam from a minaret, adjacent to a mosque.

Next to the walled city, 2,500 feet above sea level, is a hollow depression known as the Kidron Valley, and then ascending somewhat rapidly to 2,800 feet above sea level to the Mount of Olives.

On this mountain is the Russian Orthodox Church of the Ascension with a tall spire pointing heavenward, which commemorates Christ’s ascension into heaven. In between are a plethora of Jewish tombs including that of Menachem Began who, with President Carter’s leadership, developed a peace treaty with Egypt in 1978.

There are two identified holy places for the Garden of Gethsemene:

• One is at the western base of the Mount of Olives, which contains eight very old olive trees estimated to be about 800 years old.

This Garden is next to the Rock of Agony Basilica, also called the church of All Nations. Inside the church is the Rock, identified as the place where Christ prayed before his Crucifixion.

• The second is the Russian Church of Mary Magdalen, which has typical large, onion-shaped domes and a Garden of Gethsemane.

This large and exquisite church was completed in 1888 when Russian Czar Alexander the 3rd fulfilled his promise of its building if his mother was restored to health.

Much interest was expressed in locating Holy Places in about 313 AD, when Constantine the Great who, as a Roman ruler, accepted Christianity as an official religion.

He and his Queen mother, Helena, were very zealous in identifying a plethora of holy sites.

Many churches were built on these sites, including, for example, the Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth, which was built over the identified site announcing the birth of Christ.

Holy sites are revered and may well cause serious disagreements among those who claim ownership.

— Sincerely,

Marlow Ediger

North Newton