This is a story of olive trees symbols of peace and prosperity. Of two trees planted by two popes in the Garden of Gethsemane.
The first by Pope Paul VI half a century ago and the second by Pope Francis on May 26, 2014 during his three day visit to the Holy Land.The two trees now stand side by side within the sacred enclosure therein, where a centuries old olive grove recalls with its gnarled trees the Passion of Christ.
The sapling tree which was chosen for Pope Francis, a gift from the Churches of the Holy Land, had been carefully selected. It is in fact an offshoot from one of the original eight trees in the garden, which researchers say, dates back to nine centuries ago. According to them the eight trees have an “identical genetic profile”. One which goes back to the days of the Crusaders who it is presumed redesigned the garden in the twelfth century.
Why the Crusaders chose to use offshoots from one tree among others to replant the sacred garden of Gethsemane remains a mystery. What’s certain is that they considered it to be special. Perhaps they believed this tree dated back to the time of Jesus.