When you boil
everything down, you discover
God's Intelligent Design is embedded in
our very DNA.
The question I always get asked
when we meet people is,
"two blue-eyed red heads! So... Who's the one with the
My husband and I were both blue- eyed tow-heads,
so when I gave birth to my first child,
and the nurse declared,
"what beautiful red hair!"
I responded, "oh, It just needs washed, we don't have Red Hair."
As it turns out, he did very much have beautiful Red Hair!
Red Hair and Blue Eyes- the rarest combination in the world.
Astonishingly enough, Not one human being on either side of my family or my husbands family had red hair anywhere! Not even close.
So of course, I went digging- at the time, I assumed what most people do,
that a family member or parent must have red hair.
I discovered, however,
that the recessive gene can skip multiple generations,
and must be paired with the same unique recessive gene on both sides.
Needless to say, it was an
Then comes my second child, ..and,
you guessed it! Beautiful
Hair, and Blue Eyes! What are the odds?
The Garden of Gethsemane
is a small grove consisting of eight
ancient olive trees
located at the
''foot" of the Mount of Olives
just outside the
Old City of Jerusalem
Its name derives from the Aramaic word gat semãnê, which means
and suggests the presence of a mill in ancient times.
To know that these olive trees were present at the
Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ,
to be here now and see that they still bear fruits is an incredible feeling.- Father Diego Dalla GassaThis piece of land is famous because, according to the Gospels written by Matthew and Mark, here is where after the Last Supper Jesus retired with His disciples to pray, when He was betrayed by Judas and arrested by soldiers and Pharisees.
The Gospels and other sacred texts, confirmed by archeological finds, are considered reliable sources on the life of Jesus, who is the founder of Christianity but is praised and respected also by other religions.
The Agony He suffered
last night of His life at Gethsemane
gave this place a deep spiritual significance
which reaches its peak during
The Holy Week has just ended when we talked with the 44-year-old Italian Franciscan friar Father Diego Dalla Gassa, who is in charge of the Hermitage of Gethsemane, to learn more about these special olive trees.
“The Custody of the Holy Land followed the research activities carried out in the olive grove during a study realized by experts in biology and plant physiology from Italian universities and the National Research Council,” he explained. The project coordinated by Giovanni Gianfrate and Antonio Cimato, aimed at evaluating the state of preservation of the olive trees, showing that the portion of them which is currently visible dates back to the mid-12th century.
“But certainly, the original part of the plants is much older,” Fra Diego said. “We well know that it is difficult to determine the exact age of secular olive trees due to the deterioration of the most ancient section of the trunk. The CNR estimated that the aerial part of the trees is relatively young, probably due to actions taken by the Crusaders, when they arrived in Jerusalem, to preserve them better.”
The actual level of the soil is higher than that at the time,
due to stratified deposits over the ages. “Analysis on root-core samples showed not only that the olive trees belong to a unique original variety, but also that, extraordinarily, all of them have the same DNA which means that certainly they were propagated by cuttings from a mother plant,” Fra Diego revealed.
We know that after 70 A.D., which is the date of the destruction of the Temple at Jerusalem, and in 130 A.D., the olive trees probably suffered from ravages and fires fomented by the emperor Hadrian and his troops, which would not have destroyed them completely as the older part of them has been preserved.
“The olive tree is effectively considered a
symbol of eternal life,”
Fra Diego observed. “The fact that these plants were propagated by cuttings indicates that, most probably, the Christian custodians who later kept the Garden opted intentionally for this solution:
They wanted to preserve the
of the olive trees which had witnessed the
Agony of Jesus.”
We do not know which the mother plant is, but it is not excluded
that these olive trees have been
planted more than two-thousand years ago.
"To know that these olive trees were present at the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ, to be here now and see that they still bear fruits is an incredible feeling,” the Custodian affirmed.
Further analysis showed that the plants are healthy and free from any diseases. The olive fruit fly does not proliferate thanks to the high temperatures recorded during summer and, in general, the ideal microclimate of the area makes the work of the custodians easier. Even the researchers called “a small miracle” the fact that the soil of Gethsemane seems able to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria and pathogens.
The Franciscan Friars of the Custody, mostly Italians,
take care of the olive trees
with the support of experts.
Pruning is performed
by one or two people,
and the branches are cut delicately
based on a training system
not intended to increase the production,
but to maintain a shape
which aesthetically fits into the context of a
Refined through Suffering for Purification
The olive grove
is managed with great care in such a way to ensure
nothing disrupts the healthy growth of the plants,
which do not need any particular phytosanitary treatment
thanks to their excellent condition.
“Last time I took care of the harvest we collected about 700 kilograms (1,543 pounds) of olives,” Fra Diego revealed, explaining that during harvest time they gather a group of no more than 20 volunteers and, if it is good weather, they start harvesting on the second Saturday in October.
“We need a week to conclude harvesting operations because we generally we work on maximum two trees a day,” he added. Then, the olives are brought to a local mill where operators take special precautions. The Franciscan friars also help supervise the neighboring Kidron valley.
While the production of the surrounding groves is used for the maintenance of their convents,
the extra virgin olive oil
obtained from the olive trees of the Sacred Garden
is used exclusively for liturgical purposes;
that is why every year on Holy Thursday it is
blessed during the Chrism
Mass celebrated at the Holy Sepulcher.
the oil is sent to the parishes of the territory, where it will be
used for sacraments throughout the year.