Why Can't Catholics Celebrate Mass where the First Mass was Celebrated – in the Upper Room?

by Steve Ray on July 18, 2013

Fish-eye view of the Upper Rome with our pilgrims

Deputy Foreign Minister Zeev Elkin dismisses reports that Israel is planning to hand over control of the Tomb of King David to the Vatican.

By Shimon Cohen, First Publish: 7/18/2013, 5:15 AM

 See Steve Ray’s comments at the end of the article

Deputy Foreign Minister Zeev Elkin (Likud) on Wednesday dismissed recent reports that Israel is planning to hand over control of the Tomb of King David to the Vatican.

Responding to a question by MK Yaakov Litzman (United Torah Judaism), Elkin said that the Foreign Ministry has not signed nor does it intend to sign any agreement transferring all or parts of the tomb.

The Tomb of King David, located on Mount Zion in Jerusalem, is also home to a church, which claims ownership of the site, more specifically of a room in the compound in which the Catholic Church claims the “Last Supper” occurred.

Several years ago, Jewish groups attempted to carry out improvements to the building, setting off protests from church leaders. More recently, the church requested permission from Israel to build a passageway through the Diaspora Yeshiva in order to enable visitors to more easily access a Christian site on the Mount.

Reclining in the Upper Room for the First Eucharist

Elkin said that there is a longstanding economic agreement between the Vatican and Israel. This agreement relates to taxes, fees, and individual claims on Vatican property and while there have been demands to include the “Last Supper” room as part of it, the Foreign Ministry has made it clear that control of the site will not be handed to the Vatican whatsoever.

Elkin added that he is unaware of any offer, not even on the part of the Vatican, to receive control of King David’s Tomb in exchange for lands owned by the Vatican around the Kinneret. Rumors of such an offer have recently appeared in hareidi-religious publications.

“Every detail regarding the Last Supper room was agreed upon in coordination with the Ministry of the Interior, and since then the subject has not been opened for discussion with the Vatican,” said Elkin.

Steve’s Note: As much as I support Israel, matters like this infuriate me. Christians around the world should demand that Israel practice religious freedom and do the right thing – give the Upper Room back to its rightful owners, the Franciscans, and again allow Catholics to celebrate Mass where Jesus instituted the Eucharist, the priesthood, confession and where the Holy Spirit came down on Pentecost. We should put ever amount of pressure possible on Israel to change their stubborn minds on this matter.

Regarding the Tomb of David: The tomb of David on Mount Zion is not the real tomb, but a ceremonial tomb. David was buried down the hill near the Ophel Ridge in the remains of the original city of David. For info on the real place of David’s burial, click HERE for my study on this.




  • Sheldon Dsouza says:

    I would also love to have mass celebrated at the same spot where Jesus had celebrated the New Covenant. But if that place proves to be the place where the Tomb of King David is, then I guess the right to the place belongs to both. But I wonder if the Last Supper was celebrated anywhere near King David’s tomb as such an important place would not be missed out by the Gospel writers. There is significance if Jesus had the last supper somewhere close to that place. However, coming to the theological perspective, I would vote for the place to be a museum where in our Jewish brothers as well as Christian (esp. Catholic) brothers can come over and relive scripture and understand the significance of Christ and the relationship to David.

  • Peggy Tasler says:

    Steve, is it the actual room or just the location of the actual room?

  • David M Paggi says:


    Thanks so much for all you do, and for putting up this article with your clarifying note, without which the article is totally misleading. The claim in the article sounds perfectly reasonable to the uninformed (that would include me); that is, the tomb of Israel’s greatest king should stay in their hands, even if it was later used in an entirely different context. But baldly referring to the site as the “Tomb of David” without qualification is disingenous, and some of the tone of the article seemed rather haughty.

    This raises a few interesting questions, which I will pose to you for your consideration. While I certainly can’t ask you to take your valuable time just to satisfy my curiosity, I wonder if there is a documentary here that you (and perhaps Teresa Tomeo?) could do? I remember the series on EWTN that the Franciscans did where they claimed to have title to the site. If the necessary permissions can be obtained, perhaps some of that material and footage could be recycled. I know nothing about video production or Israel or Franciscans for that matter, so please excuse if my ignorance is irritating.

    Is this from an English language souce, or is it a translation. If it is a translation, do you know if it is faithful to the original? Either way, does the tough language; e.g., “does not intent to”, “whatsoever”) come from Elkin or the author? Is this typical for Israeli politicians and/or journalists? Do you know the extent of the proposed “improvements” that were the basis of Catholic protest, and conversely, the significance of the “passageway” to the operation of the Jewish school there? I just read the linked op-ed piece, which claims a sort of domino effect will occur; if they give up this site then the Francsicans are going to take over all of Jewish Jerusalem. Is that as crazy as it sounds? Is there any substantial reason (other than arrogance) why the site must be used for a Yeshiva school? Similarly is there any legitimate reason why use of the site is permitted only twice a year? Is Elkin Orthodox (I would bet on it)? Is the polemical tone of the linked op-ed typical for that publication? Is that attitude common in the media there? It seems that the author went well out of his way to cite an event in 2005 at another location entirely just to throw a rock at the Church. Are such accusations routine? If so, do thy go unchallenged? Is there any basis for the claim of silence? If not, is there any forum with equal visibility where those claims can be refuted? By the way, did you notice that the author claimed Pope Francis has a close relationship with the Francsicans, but neglected to mention that he is a Jesuit? How does this conflict fit into the big picture, and are there similar conflicts with respect to other sites going on? Are they irritated with the Vatican about one or more issues? Are they irritated with everybody? Are you irritated by now?

    I love to catch you whenever you are on he radio; your enthusiasm is infectious, your love for God and His Church is palpable, your knowledge is deep, you articulate complex matters well, and best of all, you engage your interlocutors with grace, courtesy, and real concern. However, what I respect most is the price you and other converts make to swim the Tiber for the pearl of great price. The difficult struggle you and Scott Hahn and so many others had to endure had the happy effect of preparing you for what you are doing so well now. It certainly is reminiscent of a certain event that occurred long ago in Damascus.

    My guess is if you don’t do a documentary, nobody else will.

    God Bless!

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