The name Gethsemane derives from the Jewish words Gat-Semen, which mean olive press. The river bed at the far end of which is located Gethsemane, is called “Valley of the Cedars” where according to Christian tradition it is connected with the place, at which God’s last judgment will take place. Another name of the river bed is known as the “Valley of Iossaphat”. The name Iossaphat derives from the Jewish words Jahveh-Saphot, which mean: “God judges” as a place name by the prophet Joel 3:2.
According to the New Testament the road to the martyrdom of Christ started at Gethsemane (Matt 26:36, Mark 14:32, Luke 22:39, John 18). At Gethsemane Christ prayed before His passion, it was there He received the kiss of betrayal of Judah and it was there where he was apprehended by the guards of Pilate, the mob and the servants of the Pharisees. Already from the 4th century AD, these events of the New Testament were topographically identified and their places proved to be holy and devotional Christian Shrines.
Gethsemane is not only related with the anguish and passion of Christ but also with the burial of the Virgin Mary. The determination of the Tomb of the Theotokos was indicated to the middle of the 1st century. At almost the same period the first Church of the Repose of the Theotokos was built, probably during the time of emperor Marcianus, in
450-457AD and of the first Patriarch of Jerusalem Juvenalius.