The Cenacle: Visiting the Room of the Last Supper in Jerusalem
Updated January 9, 2023.
The Cenacle, one of the most sacred Christian attractions in the world, is the traditional site of the Last Supper where Jesus shared a Passover meal with His disciples on the eve of His death. Here, Christ shared Holy Wine as His blood and Holy Bread as His body to signify and predict the sacrifice He would make for the sin of all people on earth. It is also the location of several other highly significant events in the Bible.
Where Is the Room of the Last Supper?
An ancient two-story stone building at the top of Mount Zion in Jerusalem contains the Room of the Last Supper (also known as the Cenacle, from the Latin word "coenaculum" meaning “dining-room”) on the upper floor.
Mount Zion is arguably the holiest place on earth, mentioned throughout the Bible and often believed to be the closest physical location to God.
According to tradition, the Tomb of King David is located on the lower floor. This is highly significant as King David was a "main character" in much of the Bible, mentioned almost as much as Jesus in the Old Testament. He lead the people of Israel out of their Egyptian bondage and, most importantly, had the vital role of creating God’s sacred headquarters in the city of Jerusalem, establishing a real home for Israelites and followers of Jesus.
There is contention about King David's tomb. An inscription on an ancient stone seems to confirm that he was a living human, while Jewish tradition holds that he never actually died. Others believe this is not the real tomb site. Either way, he was an important biblical figure, and the lower room dedicated to him, set so close to Jesus' "dining room", shows us this.
Who Owns the Cenacle?
Israel has owned the Cenacle since 1948, along with the other holy sites on Mount Zion. The site is open to the public as part of guided tours only, often combined with the Tomb of David and the other important holy sites on Mount Zion and nearby. Extended Holy Land tours of Israel, combined with Jordan, Egypt, Rome, Turkey, or Greece in 10-day packages (or longer) are also available. Many Christians from all around the world make pilgrimages to the Cenacle. It is seen as one of the holiest sites on earth and, as such, is treasured greatly. Followers of Jesus make great efforts to experience it by traveling hundreds of miles.
What Does It Look Like?
The room features a grand Roman arch on one end and intricate Gothic arches across the ceiling over a restored stone floor. Overall, the architecture of the building, which was renovated by the Crusaders, is impressive and creates a sense of gravitas. Outside, one can see where older and newer versions meet in the stonework.
The Significance of the Upper Room
While the Last Supper was a phenomenal event that truly represented Christ's sacrifice, it was not the only important event that occurred in this location.
According to the New Testament, it was here that the Washing of the Feet occurred, as well as the Resurrection, the election of Saint Matthias as an apostle, the gathering of the disciples after the Ascension of Jesus, and the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples on Pentecost. In this last event, Jesus's mother was present, giving the room the name the Cenacle of Mary. It was also important as it was then that the Holy Spirit gave the disciples the language with which to spread the Word of God around the world. The day is celebrated to this day on the Christian Pentecost holiday (the 50th day between Passover to the Jewish Shavuot holiday).
Playing host to such a number of special religious events, the room is a phenomenal place where many people feel the presence of God. Its location on Mount Zion is also important, as Mount Zion was referred to in the Bible repeatedly as the home or kingdom of Jesus and a place where God welcomed His believers with open arms.
A wonderfully tangible representation of Jesus' sacrifice can be seen in a beautiful wall carving of pelicans in a corner under the little dome above a staircase. Two fledglings peck at their mother's heart.
Walk in the Footsteps of Jesus
We've also created a summary of the events in Jesus' Life and where they took place, which can provide more insight into His time on earth and the special places He visited. There are several tours that offer the chance to explore the other sacred areas where Jesus walked.