Jerusalem Syndrome: The Madness That Grips Foreigners On The streets Of The Holy City

American Christian pilgrims re-enact the crucifixion of Jesus along the Via Dolorosa, the route tradition says Jesus carried the cross on which he was to be crucified by the Romans, during the Good Friday procession on April 2, 2010 in Jerusalem's Old City.
David Silverman/Getty

The London Daily Telegraph reports: An Irish schoolteacher who came to a Jerusalem hospital convinced she was about to give birth to the Baby Jesus when in fact she was not even pregnant.

A Canadian tourist who believed he was the Biblical strongman Sampson and tried to tear stone blocks out of the Wailing Wall.

An Austrian man who flew into a rage in his hotel kitchen when staff refused to prepare the the Last Supper for him.

These are just a few examples of what has come to be known as the Jerusalem Syndrome: a well-documented phenomenon where foreign visitors suffer psychotic delusions that they are figures from the Bible or harbingers of the End of Days.

Israel’s health ministry records around 50 cases a year where a tourist’s delusions are so strong that police or mental health professionals are forced to intervene. Many more incidents go undocumented on the streets of Jerusalem’s Old City.

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