Read: Mark 14:27-31, 66-72 (www.biblestudytools.com/nrs/mark/14.html)
Sing: Freely, Freely, UMH 389
Gallus Cantus means cockcrow in Latin. So imagine being Peter when the cock crowed.
We have all been where Peter found himself in that instant: in denial of our relationship with Jesus Christ; in denial of our place in his kingdom; in denial of his place in our lives and in our hearts. You and I might not put it into words as Peter did that night but we do act out our denial by doing things we should not do and saying things we should not say and by not doing things that we should do and not saying things we should say. You and I have been in Gallicantu! That is the power of this place. Even if you have never been in Israel you have been in Gallicantu – we all have.
The Church of Saint Peter in Gallicantu is in a relatively new building but it has a long history that is illustrative of many sites in the Holy Land: a major church built here in 457 was damaged in 529 during the Samaritan Revolt and destroyed in 614 by the Persians. It was rebuilt around 628 and destroyed in 1009 by the mad Caliph Hakim. The church was rebuilt around 1100 by the Crusaders and destroyed in 1219 by the Turks. Then a chapel was built, but it was destroyed around 1300. The present church was completed in 1931 and renovated in 1996.
As you may be able to gather from the name given to this church it is believed that this is the site of the house of the high priest Caiaphas. Evidence for this includes the remains of buildings from the Second Temple period found in the midst of the foundation pillars of the 5th century church. Some of these remains are cut from the bedrock and include a kitchen, a silo, and a flour mill. Artifacts found include cooking pots, a complete set of weights and measures for liquids and solids as used by the priests in the Temple, coins from the Jewish revolt against the Romans, and a door lintel with the word “korban” (sacrificial offering) inscribed in Hebrew.
The Church of Saint Peter in Gallicantu is built on four levels, all built upon the steep eastern slope of Mount Zion. The top level is the main sanctuary. There is artwork everywhere including ancient mosaics uncovered in excavations of the site. The most spectacular art is the stained glass cross built into the domed roof and featuring a dazzling variety of colors.
Down one flight of steps is a large chapel that seems to spring from the bedrock. This chapel is also decorated with many beautiful pieces of artwork and includes an opening in the floor which allows one to look down into the two lower levels. Through this opening you can also see three Byzantine crosses cut into the rock between levels.