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Emmaus Nicopolis Monastery
Emmaus Nicopolis Monastery
|Location 31°50′21.48″N 34°59′22.05″E|
|Phone number +972-8-925-69-40|
|Open to visitors yes|
|Need appointment no|
|Handicap accessibility no|
|Geographical Coordinates 31.8393,34.98946|
Emmaus Nicopolis (lit. City of Victory) was the Roman name for a city associated with the Emmaus of the New Testament, where Jesus is said to have appeared after his death and resurrection. In the modern age, the site was the location of the Palestinian Arab village of Imwas, near the Latrun junction, between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, before its depopulation and destruction in 1967. Emmaus Nicopolis was the name of the city from the 3rd century CE until the conquest of Palestine by the forces of the Rashidun Caliphate in 639. The site today is located in the West Bank inside Canada Park.
History and time period
Due to its strategic position, Emmaus played an important administrative, military and economic role in history. The first mention of Emmaus occurs in the 1st book of Maccabees, chapters 3-4, in the context of Judas the Maccabee’s wars against the Greeks (2nd century BCE). During the Hasmonean period, Emmaus became a regional administrative centre (toparchy) in the Ayalon Valley.Josephus Flavius mentions Emmaus in his writings several times. He speaks about the destruction of Emmaus by the Romans in the year 4 B. C. After the defeat of the Bar-Kochba’s revolt in the first half of the 2nd century CE, Romans and Samaritans settled in Emmaus. In the early 3rd century CE, a Christian scholar and writer born in Jerusalem, Julius Africanus, lived in Emmaus. According to Eusebius of Caesarea, St. Jerome, Philip of Side and others, Africanus led a delegation of local residents to the Roman emperor Elagabalus, obtaining for Emmaus the status of a city (polis) and the name of "Nicopolis," which it bore during the late Roman period and throughout the Byzantine period. As St. Eusebius writes, Emmaus, whence was Cleopas who is mentioned by the Evangelist Luke. Today it is Nicopolis, a famous city of Palestine.
During the Byzantine period Emmaus-Nicopolis became a big city and a bishopric. A large church complex was erected on the spot of the apparition of the risen Christ, which served as a place of pilgrimage, and whose ruins still exist today. After the Muslim conquest in the 7th century, Emmaus went back to being called "Amwas" or "Imwas", but lost its importance as a regional center. During the Crusader period, the Christian presence resumed at Emmaus, and the Byzantine church was restored. However, the memory of the apparition of the risen Jesus at Emmaus also started to be celebrated in three other places in the Holy Land: Motza ( ca. 4 m./6 km. west of Jerusalem), Qubeibe (ca. 7 m./12 km northwest of Jerusalem) Abu Ghosh (ca. 7 miles/12 km west of Jerusalem). The Arab village of Amwas was identified once again as the biblical Emmaus and the Roman-Byzantine Nicopolis by scholars in the 19th century, including Edward Robinson(1838–1852), M.-V. Guérin (1868), Charles Simon Clermont-Ganneau (1874), and J.-B. Guillemot (1880–1887). In addition, a local saint named Blessed Mariam of Jesus Crucified, a nun of the Carmelite monastery of Bethlehem, had a revelation in 1878 in which Jesus indicated Amwas was the Gospel’s Emmaus. Thanks to this revelation, the holy place of Emmaus was acquired by the Carmelite monastery from the Muslims, excavations were carried out, and the flow of pilgrims to Emmaus-Nicopolis resumed. Following the 1948 partition of Palestine to form the state of Israel, the village of Amwas fell within the West Bank territory under Jordanian control. However it was captured by Israeli forces during the Six Day War of 1967, and subsequently its mixed Muslim and Christian Arab population was driven out and the village razed to the ground, to become part of Canada Park.
Emmaus Nicopolis appears on Roman geographical maps. The Peutinger Table situates it about 19 miles (31 km) west of Jerusalem, while the Ptolemy map shows it at a distance of 20 miles (32 km) from the city. This location is confirmed by ancient sources and translations of the Gospel of Luke (e. g. Codex Sinaiticus), which give the distance between biblical Emmaus and Jerusalem as 160 stadia. The geographical position of Emmaus is described in the Jerusalem Talmud, Tractate Sheviit 9.2: From Bet Horon to the Sea is one domain. Yet is it one domain without regions? Rabbi Johanan said, ‘Still there is Mountain, Lowland, and Valley. From Bet Horon to Emmaus it is Mountain, from Emmaus to Lydda Lowland, from Lydda to the Sea Valley. Then there should be four stated? They are adjacent’.