Pool of Bethesda & St. Anne Church

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Pool of Bethesda & St. Anne Church




1. The Pool of Bethesda is located on the property of the Church of St. Anne. 


2. The Church of St. Anne is located just inside the Lions’ Gate at the eastern entrance of the Old City. 


3. The Church of St. Anne is known for its extraordinary acoustics, and visitors singing hymns of praise to God can often be heard there. 


4. The ruins of the Jewish, Roman, Byzantine, and Crusader eras are still well preserved at the Pool of Bethesda. 


Historical Background


1. The Pool of Bethesda marks the place where a sick man was healed.


2. Bethesda means “House of Mercy.”


3. There were two large cisterns by the Pool of Bethesda that supplied water to the temple during the times of the first and second temples until the time Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 AD.


4. Beside the cisterns were the Pool of Bethesda and a healing center. There was also a sheep market and a sheep gate close-by.


5. After the destruction of Jerusalem, the Pool of Bethesda was the location of a temple to Asclepius, the Roman god of healing. 


6. A Byzantine basilica was built over the ruins of the Temple of Asclepius in the 5th century, and today the arches that supported the floors can still be seen.


7. The Crusaders built a chapel over the ruins of the Byzantine basilica.


8. A church built around 450 on the site of St Anne’s Church was dedicated to the believed place Mary, the mother of Jesus, was born.


9. The current church of St. Anne was built in the 12th century by the Crusaders and is one of the most beautiful and preserved Crusader churches in Israel.


10. Christian tradition identifies St. Anne’s Church as the home of Anne (Hannah) and Joachim, the parents of Mary, mother of Jesus.


11. In 1192, after the fall of the Crusader Kingdom, Saladin turned the church into a theological school for the study of the Quran, which is commemorated in an inscription above the entrance to the church. 


12. In the 19th century, the compound was given to the French Catholic Order of the White Fathers.


13. France did extensive restoration work on the church, returning it as closely as possible to the original basilica. A second restoration was necessary after the church was damaged during the Six Day War in 1967.


Places of Interest


1. Pool of Bethesda (also used as a cistern and mikvah)


  • South pool

  • North pool

  • Pool of Bethesda and its 5 porticoes

  • Ruins of the Roman Temple of Asclepius (god of healing)

  • Pagan medicinal baths

  • Ruins of a Byzantine Basilica

  • Ruins of a Crusader chapel


2. Sheep Gate (located where the Lions’ Gate is today)​​


3. Antonia Fortress


4. Temple Mount

5. Church of St. Anne

  • Altar at the front of the church depicting three events: (1) the Annunciation on the right (2) the descent of Jesus from the Cross in the center, and (3) the birth of Jesus on the left.

  • Crypt dedicated to Mary’s birth

Pool of Bethesda in the Bible


1. It was a place where many came to be healed during the time of Jesus.
John 5:1–4: After these things, there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 2 Now there is in Jerusalem by the sheep gate a pool, which is called in Hebrew Bethesda, having five porticoes. 3 In these lay a multitude of those who were sick, blind, lame, and withered, waiting for the moving of the waters; 4 for an angel of the Lord went down at certain seasons into the pool and stirred up the water; whoever then first, after the stirring up of the water, stepped in was made well from whatever disease with which he was afflicted.


2. A sick man had been going to this pool for healing for 38 long years.
John 5:5: A man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years.


3. Jesus healed the sick man.
John 5:6–9: When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he had already been a long time in that condition, He said to him, “Do you wish to get well?” 7 The sick man answered Him, “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, but while I am coming, another steps down before me.” 8 Jesus said to him, “Get up, pick up your pallet and walk.” 9 Immediately the man became well, and picked up his pallet and began to walk.


4. Christ revealed to the man why he had been sick for so long.
John 5:9–14: Now it was the Sabbath on that day. 10 So the Jews were saying to the man who was cured, “It is the Sabbath, and it is not permissible for you to carry your pallet.” 11 But he answered them, “He who made me well was the one who said to me, ‘Pick up your pallet and walk.’” 12 They asked him, “Who is the man who said to you, ‘Pick up your pallet and walk’?” 13 But the man who was healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had slipped away while there was a crowd in that place. 14 Afterward, Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, “Behold, you have become well; do not sin anymore, so that nothing worse happens to you.”


5. Jesus makes Himself equal with God.
John 5:15–18: The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well. 16 For this reason, the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because He was doing these things on the Sabbath. 17 But He answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working.” For this reason, therefore, the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because He not only was breaking the Sabbath, but also was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God.


Faith Lesson from the Pool of Bethesda


1. The sick man had faith in God as he was in a place where miracles happened. Do we have faith that God can help us with our problems?


2. The sick man was patient and went to the Pool of Bethesda regularly for 38 long years. Are we patient and remain faithful even if we don’t understand sickness or problems we might have?

3. The sick man was alone as no one would help him get into the pool to be healed. Do we need others to help us with our problems because we are alone?


4. It appears his disability was caused by some sinful activity because Jesus told him to stop sinning or something worse might happen to him. Is it possible our sicknesses could be caused by disobedience and sin in our lives?

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