Gethsemane means “oil press”, suggesting the presence of an olive grove. The use of the word “place” in the Gospel accounts indicates that Gethsemane was an enclosed piece of ground. It may be that the grove was privately owned and that Jesus and his disciples had special permission to enter. According to John Jesus and his disciples often gathered in Gethsemane for fellowship and prayer.
Gethsemane was one of the last places Jesus walked. He and his disciples walked there after their Last Supper together in the upper room. In Gethsemane Jesus struggled with what He knew was the will of His Father. He realized the hour of his betrayal was at hand. While He struggled in prayer his disciples abandoned Him and rather went to sleep nearby.
Pilgrims to the Mount of Olives can still visit the enclosed garden with ancient olive trees. It might be that the same trees stood there when Jesus visited the garden.
Church of All Nations at Gethsemane
Next to the Garden of Gethsemane is the Roman Catholic Church of All Nations, sponsored by 16 nations when it was built in 1924. It enshrines a section of bedrock where Jesus is said to have prayed before his arrest.
On the southern side of the Church, also known as The Basilica of Agony, is another garden with an open air altar available to pilgrims and groups from all denominations.
Across the road from the entrance to the Garden is a courtyard with the Tomb of the Virgin. In the same courtyard is the Grotto of Gethsemane, a rival to the Church of All Nations. It is also known as the Grotto of Betrayal and believed by some to be the spot where the disciples rested while Jesus prayed and the place where Judas betrayed Jesus with a kiss.