It was almost 4.500 years ago and most likely in 2.370BC when the Earth was struck by a dire cataclysm. For 40 days and nights it had been raining heavily. Everything was destroyed except for a group of people and a group of animals and birds, who driven by God’s will gathered in an Ark which was constructed by a decent man named Noah. This particular Ark was floating saving people, animals and birds as long as the cataclysm lasted. It took 150 days for the rainfall water to recede. Soon after that Noah released a pigeon and it returned carrying an olive tree branch on its beak. The whole plant kingdom was destroyed.However, the olive tree remained unharmed. Noah was extremely happy not only because the pigeon had returned but also because the olive tree had survived.In this life and death battle, life was the winner after all.
The Greek tragic poet Sofoklis (496BC-406BC) also confirmed the Divine origin of the olive tree as well as its protection by God. ‘Self-grown tree which blooms the most in this country. Nobody, no matter how young or old will ever manage to annihilate it through hostile means. God Zeus and Goddess Athena will always keep an eye on it ’. Ancient Greeks regarded the Olive tree as sacred and protected it with laws.
In a farm full of olive trees Jesus said his prayers and experienced the anguish of his oncoming ‘death’. This farm maintained through history under the name of Gesthimani, which in the Aramaic language means Oilpress. ‘On his way out he customarily headed for the Olive tree mountain and kneeled as he was, he started praying’ (Loukas KB,39).
Several religions used the olive tree as well as the olive oil for their sacraments. In Christianism, in particular, olive oil has always been used in the baptism or Unction sacraments. Inside churches among the Saints’ icons, one can see the flickering flame which derives from the burning olive oil.Even in the Bible there are many references to the olive tree as well as the olive oil. Here’s one of the countless incidents which took place at a Monastery in Mount Athos: They ran out of olive oil. The monks were desperate. Their last resort was to pray to the Mount Athos protector, Holy Mary and soon after that there was a miracle. All the Monastery’s jars were filled with olive oil. Religious icon painters drew Holy Mary blessing an olive oil jar with her hands.This miraculous icon lies in Pantokratoros church in Mount Athos. Its name is Old Holy Mary.