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Church of St Peter in Gallicantu

Jerusalem

 

Church of St Peter in Gallicantu

Church of St Peter in Gallicantu (Seetheholyland.net)

One of the most striking churches in Jerusalem commemorates the apostle Peter’s triple denial of his Master, his immediate repentance and his reconciliation with Christ after the Resurrection.

Built on an almost sheer hillside, the Church of St Peter in Gallicantu stands on the eastern slope of Mount Zion.

On its roof rises a golden rooster atop a black cross — recalling Christ’s prophesy that Peter would deny him three times “before the cock crows”. Galli-cantu means cockcrow in Latin.

Peter’s denial of Christ is recorded in all four Gospels (most succinctly in Matthew 26:69-75). Three of the Gospels also record his bitter tears of remorse.

The scene of Peter’s disgrace was the courtyard of the high priest Caiaphas. The Assumptionist congregation, which built St Peter in Gallicantu over the ruins of a Byzantine basilica, believes it stands on the site of the high priest’s house.

Under the church is a dungeon thought to be the cell where Jesus was detained for the night following his arrest.

 

Blend of contemporary and ancient art

Church of St Peter in Gallicantu

St Peter denies Christ, outside the Church of St Peter in Gallicantu (Seetheholyland.net)

The Church of St Peter in Gallicantu is built on four different levels — upper church, middle church, guardroom and dungeon. Its design and art are a colourful blend of contemporary and ancient works.

In the courtyard a statue depicts the denial, including the rooster, the woman who questioned Peter, and a Roman soldier.

Inside, on the right, are two Byzantine-era mosaics. Uncovered during excavation, they were most likely part of the floor of the fifth-century Byzantine church.

The ceiling is a striking feature. It is dominated by a huge cross-shaped window designed in a radiant variety of colours.

Three large mosaics cover the back wall and two side walls. Facing the entrance is a bound Jesus being questioned in the house of Caiaphas; on the right, Jesus and the disciples are shown at the Last Supper; on the left, Peter is depicted in ancient papal dress as the first pope.

Downstairs, in the middle church, icons above the altars depict St Peter’s denial, his repentance and his reconciliation with his Master on the shore of the Sea of Galilee after the Resurrection.

Many of the inscriptions in the church are in French, since the Assumptionists are a French religious order.

 

Guardroom and prisoner’s cell

Church of St Peter in Gallicantu

Pilgrims praying in the Sacred Pit under the Church of St Peter in Gallicantu (Seetheholyland.net)

The lower levels of the Church of St Peter in Gallicantu contain what are believed to have been a guardroom and a prisoner’s cell, both hewn out of bedrock.

• The guardroom contains wall fixtures to attach prisoners’ chains. Holes in the stone pillars would have been used to fasten a prisoner’s hands and feet when he was flogged. Bowls carved in the floor are believed to have contained salt and vinegar, either to aggravate the pain or to disinfect the wounds.

Jesus, of course, was not flogged by the Jews but by the Romans. But some of his disciples, probably including Peter, were flogged by order of the Jewish council after the Resurrection for teaching in the name of Jesus in the Temple (Acts 5:40).

• The prisoner’s cell offers a sobering insight into where Christ might have spent the night before he was crucified. It has become known as “Christ’s Prison”.

The only access to the bottle-necked cell was through a shaft from above, so the prisoner would have been lowered and raised by means of a rope harness. A mosaic depicting Jesus in such a harness is outside on the south wall of the church.

A small window from the guardroom served as a peephole for a guard standing on a stone block.

 

Disagreement over house of Caiaphas

Though pilgrims’ reports back as far as AD 333 attest to this place being the site of the house of Caiaphas, archaeologists are divided.

Some favour an alternative site for the high priest’s house at the Armenian Orthodox Church of the House of Caiaphas on the summit of Mount Zion, adjacent to the Dormition Abbey.

Jerome Murphy-O’Connor considers it “much more likely that the house of the high priest was at the top of the hill”.

Bargil Pixner, a former prior of the Dormition Abbey, disagrees, saying “this late and astonishing theory originated at the time of the Crusaders and is quite improbable”.

Excavations at St Peter in Gallicantu have revealed a water cistern, corn mill, storage chambers and servants’ quarters.

Artefacts discovered include a complete set of weights and measures for liquids and solids as used by the priests in the Temple, and a door lintel with the word “Korban” (sacrificial offering) inscribed in Hebrew.

Steps that Jesus trod

Church of St Peter in Gallicantu

Steps leading to the House of Caiphas (Seetheholyland.net)

Beside the Church of St Peter in Gallicantu, excavations have brought to light a stepped street which in ancient times would have descended from Mount Zion to the Kidron Valley.

These stone steps were certainly in use at the time of Christ. On the evening of his arrest, he probably descended them with his disciples on their way from the Last Supper to Gethsemane.

And, even if the House of Caiphas was situated further up Mount Zion than the present church, it would have been by this route that Jesus was brought under guard to the high priest’s house.

The Church of St Peter in Gallicantu illustrates the tumultuous history of religious sites in the Holy Land: A major church built here in 457 was damaged in 529 during the Samaritan Revolt and destroyed in 614 by the Persians. It was rebuilt around 628 and destroyed in 1009 by the mad Caliph Hakim. Rebuilt around 1100 by the Crusaders, it was destroyed in 1219 by the Turks. Then a chapel was built, but it was destroyed around 1300. The present church was completed in 1932.

In Scripture:

Peter denies Jesus: Matthew 26:69-75

Administered by: Augustinians of the Assumption

Tel.: 972-2-6731739

Open: 8.30am-5pm (closed Sunday)

 

 

References

Bar-Am, Aviva: Beyond the Walls: Churches of Jerusalem (Ahva Press, 1998)
Brownrigg, Ronald: Come, See the Place: A Pilgrim Guide to the Holy Land (Hodder and Stoughton, 1985)
Gonen, Rivka: Biblical Holy Places: An illustrated guide (Collier Macmillan, 1987)
Mackowski, Richard M.: Jerusalem: City of Jesus (William B. Eerdmans, 1980)
McCormick, James R.: Jerusalem and the Holy Land (Rhodes & Eaton, 1997)
Martin, James: A Pilgrim’s Guide to the Holy Land (Westminster Press, 1978)
Murphy-O’Connor, Jerome: The Holy Land: An Oxford Archaeological Guide from Earliest Times to 1700 (Oxford University Press, 2005)
Pixner, Bargil: With Jesus in Jerusalem – his First and Last Days in Judea (Corazin Publishing, 1996)
Wareham, Norman, and Gill, Jill: Every Pilgrim’s Guide to the Holy Land (Canterbury Press, 1996)

 

External links

Church of Saint Peter in Gallicantu (Christus Rex)
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Church of St Mary Magdalene

Jerusalem

Church of St Mary Magdalene

Onion domes and ornate frontage of Church of St Mary Magdalene (Seetheholyland.net)

Seven gilded onion domes, each topped by a tall Russian Orthodox cross, make the Church of St Mary Magdalene one of Jerusalem’s most picturesque sights.

It makes an especially striking spectacle at night, when its floodlit domes seem to be floating above the dark trees that surround it.

The church stands on the western slope of the Mount of Olives, above the Garden of Gethsemane and the Church of All Nations. It commemorates the enigmatic Mary from Magdala  — revered as a saint by the Orthodox, Catholic, Anglican and Lutheran churches — who was one of the few persons named in the Gospels as being present at Christ’s crucifixion and who was the first recorded witness of his Resurrection.

In its convent live about 30 Russian Orthodox nuns from several different countries. While particularly known for the quality of their liturgical singing, they also paint icons, embroider vestments and items for liturgical use, and decorate Russian eggs.

 

Design reflects Muscovite architecture

Church of St Mary Magdalene

Medallion above door of Church of St Mary Magdalene (© Deror Avi)

The Church of St Mary Magdalene was built in 1888 by Czar Alexander III of Russia, in memory of his mother, Empress Maria Alexandrovna, whose patron saint was Mary Magdalene.

Its onion-shaped domes and the general style reflect the architecture of Moscow during the 16th and 17th centuries.

Although the intricately decorated façade appears to be made of marble, it is actually of sculpted white sandstone.

Above the entrance a circular blue mosaic medallion depicts Mary Magdalene robed in white.

 

Painting illustrates Mary Magdalene legend

In contrast to the exterior, the interior of the Church of St Mary Magdalene is rather plain. The walls are covered with designs, predominantly in shades of brown.The white marble and bronze iconostasis — the partition that separates the nave from the sanctuary — holds icons and paintings, including depictions of the four Evangelists, the Virgin Mary and the archangel Gabriel.

Church of St Mary Magdalene

Inside Church of St Mary Magdalene (© Deror Avi)

Above the iconostasis, a large canvas by Russian artist Sergei Ivanov illustrates a popular legend in which Mary Magdalene travels to Rome to tell the Emperor Tiberius of Jesus’ unfair trial and unjust sentence. She is shown presenting the emperor with a red egg, symbolising the Resurrection and eternal life.

To the right side of the iconostasis, a 16th-century icon of the Virgin Mary in a hand-carved wooden case has a place of honour. The icon is said to have miraculous powers.

 

Two Russian saints are buried

On either side of the nave is a marble sarcophagus, each containing the body of a Russian Orthodox saint.

The better known one is Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna. A German princess, she was the wife of the Czar’s brother Sergei, a sister of the Czar’s wife Alexandra — and a granddaughter of Queen Victoria.

The grand duchess took a deep personal interest in the church and was responsible for commissioning its art works.

Widowed when an assassin killed her husband in 1905, she founded a convent and became its abbess. She and her nuns did much to help alleviate the suffering of the poor in Moscow.

After the Russian Revolution, Grand Duchess Elizabeth, her companion Sister Barbara Yakovleva and other members of the Russian imperial family were thrown down a mine shaft by the Bolsheviks in 1918 and left to die.

The bodies of Grand Duchess Elizabeth and Sister Barbara (whose remains are in the other sarcophagus) were eventually smuggled out of Russia and brought to Jerusalem. Both women have been canonised as martyrs by the Russian Orthodox Church.

In a crypt below the church is buried Princess Alice of Greece, the mother of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. She had expressed a wish to be buried near Grand Duchess Elizabeth, who was her aunt.

In Scripture:

Jesus appears to Mary Magdalene: John 20:1-18

Administered by: Russian Ecclesiastical Mission in Jerusalem

Tel.: 972-2-6284373

Open: Tuesday and Thursday, 10am-noon

 

 

References

Bar-Am, Aviva: Beyond the Walls: Churches of Jerusalem (Ahva Press, 1998)
Gonen, Rivka: Biblical Holy Places: An illustrated guide (Collier Macmillan, 1987)
Inman, Nick, and McDonald, Ferdie (eds): Jerusalem & the Holy Land (Eyewitness Travel Guide, Dorling Kindersley, 2007)
Wareham, Norman, and Gill, Jill: Every Pilgrim’s Guide to the Holy Land (Canterbury Press, 1996)

 

External links

Convent of St Mary Magdalene — the Garden of Gethsemane
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Church of St Joseph

Israel

Church of St Joseph

Church of St Joseph, Nazareth (Seetheholyland.net)

A fond tradition asserts that the Church of St Joseph in Nazareth is built over the carpentry workshop of the husband of the Virgin Mary.

The church (also known as the Church of the Nutrition and the Church of Joseph’s Workshop) is a solid and unpretentious building. It stands very much in the shadow of the soaring cupola of the Church of the Annunciation on its southern side — just as St Joseph himself lived in the shadow of Jesus and Mary.

But there is no evidence that the cave over which the church is built was Joseph’s workshop. Even if this is the site of the Holy Family’s home, the cave is unlikely to have been a carpentry workshop in the modern sense.

The Gospels use the Greek word tekton, meaning builder or artisan, to describe Joseph. He most likely worked with both stone and wood, since stone was the common building material in the area.

Joseph’s work may have taken him away from his home. A likely place of employment was the Roman city of Sepphoris or Tzippori, which was being rebuilt by Herod Antipas at the time the Holy Family arrived from Egypt. The building site was a 50-minute walk from Nazareth.

 

Cave system under church

Church of St Joseph

Death of St Joseph, stained glass in Church of St Joseph (Seetheholyland.net)

The Church of St Joseph was built in 1914 on the remains of a Crusader church and over a cave system. The first mention of the site occurs in the work of a 17th-century Italian writer and Orientalist, Franciscus Quaresmius, who described it as “the house and workshop of Joseph”.

The apse of the church has three noteworthy paintings: The Holy Family, The Dream of Joseph, and The Death of Joseph in the Arms of Jesus and Mary.

A stairway in the church descends to a crypt where caverns can be seen through a grille in the floor. Seven further steps lead to a 2-metre square basin or pit with a black-and-white mosaic floor. This is believed to have been a pre-Constantinian Christian baptistry, perhaps used as early as the 1st century.

Beside the basin, a flight of rough steps leads down to a narrow passage which, after turning 180 degrees, opens into an underground chamber 2 metres high.

Off this are openings to grain silos and water cisterns, cut into the soft limestone rock by early dwellers. Such underground repositories were typical of ancient Nazareth.

Other sites in Nazareth:

Nazareth

Church of the Annunciation

Nazareth Village

In Scripture:

Joseph takes Mary as his wife: Matthew 1:18-25

Administered by: Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land

Tel.: 972-4-6572501

Open: 8am-6pm

 

References

Brownrigg, Ronald: Come, See the Place: A Pilgrim Guide to the Holy Land (Hodder and Stoughton, 1985)
Doyle, Stephen: The Pilgrim’s New Guide to the Holy Land (Liturgical Press, 1990)
Freeman-Grenville, G. S. P.: The Holy Land: A Pilgrim’s Guide to Israel, Jordan and the Sinai (Continuum Publishing, 1996)
Gonen, Rivka: Biblical Holy Places: An illustrated guide (Collier Macmillan, 1987)
Joseph, Frederick: “Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth”, Holy Land, spring 2005
Kilgallen, John J.: A New Testament Guide to the Holy Land (Loyola Press, 1998)
Murphy-O’Connor, Jerome: The Holy Land: An Oxford Archaeological Guide from Earliest Times to 1700 (Oxford University Press, 2005)
Walker, Peter: In the Steps of Jesus (Zondervan, 2006)
Wareham, Norman, and Gill, Jill: Every Pilgrim’s Guide to the Holy Land (Canterbury Press, 1996)

 

External links

St Joseph Church (BibleWalks)
Nazareth (Nazareth Cultural & Tourism Association)
Nazareth (Wikipedia)
Nazareth (Catholic Encyclopedia)
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Church of St Catherine of Alexandria

West Bank

Church of St Catherine

Christmas Midnight Mass in St Catherine’s Church (© Custodia Terrae Sanctae)

The midnight Mass beamed from Bethlehem to television viewers worldwide on Christmas Eve is celebrated in the Church of St Catherine of Alexandria.

This 19th-century church adjoins the 6th-century Church of the Nativity, built over the cave where Jesus was born. It even shares a wall with the Nativity church.

The Church of St Catherine is the parish church for Bethlehem’s Catholics. It is also often used by groups of pilgrims.

 

Martyr broke torture wheel

Church of St Catherine

Christmas lighting in the courtyard of St Catherine’s Church (© Custodia Terrae Sanctae)

And who was St Catherine of Alexandria? Though she has been widely venerated in both East and West, there are few reliable facts about her life.

According to the traditional story, this early 4th-century martyr from Egypt was of noble birth and well educated. At the age of 18, she challenged the emperor Maxentius (or his father, the emperor Maximian) for persecuting Christians and worshipping false gods.

The enraged emperor ordered her to be tortured on a wheel — hence the term “Catherine wheel”. But when Catherine touched the wheel, it broke. She was then beheaded and tradition says angels carried her body to Mount Sinai, where in the 6th century a church and monastery were built in her honour.

This latter part of the story was, however, unknown to the earliest pilgrims to the mountain. It was two or three centuries later that the story of St Catherine and the angels began to circulate.

St Catherine of Alexandria has been ranked with St Margaret and St Barbara as one of the 14 “most helpful” saints in heaven. She is also one of the saints reputed to have spoken to St Joan of Arc.

 

Complex of caves under church

Church of St Catherine

Chapel of the Holy Innocents under St Catherine’s Church (© Custodia Terrae Sanctae)

The Bethlehem church dedicated to St Catherine was built in 1882 on the ruins of the Crusader church and monastery belonging to the Augustinians. Beneath the paving of the cloister are the foundations of an earlier monastery, possibly that of St Jerome (whose statue stands on a pedestal in the cloister).

A door in the southwest corner of the cloister leads to a Crusader chapel. The chapel walls are decorated with remnants of Crusader wall paintings, which were partially restored in 1950.

A narrow stairway on the right hand side of the nave leads down into a complex of caves and rock-cut chambers.

These contain a number of chapels. They include the Cave of St Jerome, who translated the Vulgate version of the Bible; St Joseph’s Chapel, recalling the dream in which an angel warned Joseph to take the Holy Family to Egypt; and the Chapel of the Holy Innocents, commemorating the children massacred by Herod.

Other sites in the Bethlehem area:

Bethlehem

Church of the Nativity

Grotto of the Nativity

St Jerome’s Cave

Milk Grotto

Shepherds’ Field

Tomb of Rachel

Field of Boaz

Herodium

In Scripture:

An angel warns Joseph: Matthew 2:13-15

Massacre of the Holy Innocents: Matthew 2:16-18

Administered by: Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land

Tel.: 972-2-2742425

Open: Apr-Sep 6am-7.30pm, Oct-Mar 5.30am-5pm (grottos closed on Sunday mornings)

 

References:

Doyle, Stephen: The Pilgrim’s New Guide to the Holy Land (Liturgical Press, 1990)
Freeman-Grenville, G. S. P.: The Holy Land: A Pilgrim’s Guide to Israel, Jordan and the Sinai (Continuum Publishing, 1996)
Gonen, Rivka: Biblical Holy Places: An illustrated guide (Collier Macmillan, 1987)
Inman, Nick, and McDonald, Ferdie (eds): Jerusalem & the Holy Land (Eyewitness Travel Guide, Dorling Kindersley, 2007)
Wareham, Norman, and Gill, Jill: Every Pilgrim’s Guide to the Holy Land (Canterbury Press, 1996)

 

External links

Restoration of St Catherine’s Church at Bethlehem (Christus Rex)
Bethlehem (Obethlehem.com)
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Church of St Anne

Jerusalem

Church of St Anne

Church of St Anne (© Israel Ministry of Tourism)

The Church of St Anne is the best-preserved Crusader church in Jerusalem. It marks the traditional site of the home of Jesus’ maternal grandparents, Anne and Joachim, and the birthplace of the Virgin Mary.

Located just north of the Temple Mount, about 50 metres inside St Stephen’s or Lions’ Gate, the church stands in a courtyard with trees, shrubs and flowers. Its tranquility contrasts with the bustling streets and alleys of the Muslim Quarter.

Next to the church is the large excavation area of the Pools of Bethesda, where Christ healed a sick man (John 5:2-9).

The New Testament says nothing about the birthplace of Mary. However, an ancient tradition, recorded in the apocryphal Gospel of James which dates from around AD 150, places the house of her parents, Anne and Joachim, close to the Temple area.

A church built around 450 on the site of St Anne’s was dedicated to “Mary where she was born”.

Strong lines and thick walls give St Anne’s a fortress-like appearance. Its simple dignity offers a space for prayer and contemplation without distraction. It is also unusually asymmetrical in the detail of its design: Opposite columns do not match, windows are all different sizes, and buttresses differ in thickness and height.

The Church of St Anne is renowned for its remarkable acoustics and reverberating echoes. The voices of even a small choral group can sound like a large congregation in a vast cathedral.

 

Church survived Muslim conquest

Church of St Anne

Interior of Church of St Anne (Seetheholyland.net)

The present basilica was built by the Crusaders just before 1140 AD. Its crypt was the cave where the Crusaders believed Mary had been born.

Shortly after its construction, the Church of St Anne was enlarged by moving the facade forward by several metres.

Unlike other churches in Jerusalem, St Anne’s was not destroyed after the Muslim conquest in 1189. Instead, it was turned it into an Islamic law school by the sultan Saladin, whose name appears in the Arabic inscription still above the main entrance.

After two or three centuries, the building was abandoned.

At the end of the Crimean War between the Ottoman Turkish Empire and Russia, the Sultan of Istanbul in 1856 offered the site to the French government in gratitude for its help during the war.

By then the building was in ruins and “roof-deep in refuse”, according to Jerome Murphy-O’Connor, who now describes it as “certainly the loveliest church in the city”.

France undertook extensive restoration, returning St Anne’s as closely as possible to the original basilica. A second restoration was necessary after the church was damaged during the Six Day War in 1967.

 

Crypt believed to be Mary’s birthplace

Church of St Anne

Believed birthplace of Mary, under the Church of St Anne (Seetheholyland.net)

Three episodes from the life of the Virgin Mary are depicted at the front of the high altar in the Church of St Anne: The Annunciation on the right; the Descent of Jesus from the Cross in the centre; and the Nativity of Jesus on the left.

On the left-hand side of the altar is an illustration of the education of Mary by St Anne. On the right-hand side is a portrayal of the Presentation of the Virgin in the Temple.

A flight of stone steps descends from the south aisle to the crypt. This cave is the supposed remains of the house of Anne and Joachim, and the Virgin Mary’s birthplace.

Here, in a tiny chapel with a domed ceiling, an altar is dedicated to the birth of Mary.

The compound containing the Pools of Bethesda and St Anne’s Church is administered by the White Fathers. It also contains a museum and a Greek-Catholic (Melkite) seminary.

Related site:

Pools of Bethesda

 

In Scripture:

Jesus heals a sick man: John 5:1-18

 

Administered by: White Fathers

Tel.: 972-2-6283285

Open: Apr-Sep 8am-noon, 2-6pm; Oct-Mar 8am-noon, 2-5pm

 

 

References

Baldwin, David: The Holy Land: A Pilgrim’s Companion (Catholic Truth Society, 2007)
Bar-Am, Aviva: Beyond the Walls: Churches of Jerusalem (Ahva Press, 1998)
Bouwen, Frans: “St Anne’s Church and the Pool of Bethesda”, Cornerstone, spring 2000.
Gonen, Rivka: Biblical Holy Places: An illustrated guide (Collier Macmillan, 1987)
Inman, Nick, and McDonald, Ferdie (eds): Jerusalem & the Holy Land (Eyewitness Travel Guide, Dorling Kindersley, 2007)
Mackowski, Richard M.: Jerusalem: City of Jesus (William B. Eerdmans, 1980)
Murphy-O’Connor, Jerome: The Holy Land: An Oxford Archaeological Guide from Earliest Times to 1700 (Oxford University Press, 2005)
Starkey, Denis: “The White Fathers in Jerusalem”, White Fathers — White Sisters, April-May 1999.
Wareham, Norman, and Gill, Jill: Every Pilgrim’s Guide to the Holy Land (Canterbury Press, 1996)

 

External links

St Anne’s Church (Christus Rex)
The White Fathers’ community 
at St Anne’s, Jerusalem
Bethesda Pool panorama (Jesus in Jerusalem)
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Church of Pater Noster

Jerusalem

Church of the Pater Noster

Church of Pater Noster (Seetheholyland.net)

At the Church of Pater Noster on the Mount of Olives, Christians recall Christ’s teaching of the Lord’s Prayer to his disciples.

On walls around the church and its vaulted cloister, translations of the Lord’s Prayer in 140 languages are inscribed on colourful ceramic plaques.

A giftshop sells postcards of each plaque and the associated Convent of Pater Noster website offers translations in more than 1440 languages and dialects.

A long tradition holds that Jesus taught the Lord’s Prayer or Our Father in the cave that forms the grotto under the church. When the Crusaders built a church here in the 12th century, they called it Pater Noster (Latin for Our Father).

Pilgrims of the time reported seeing the words of the prayer inscribed in Hebrew and Greek on marble plaques. Excavations have uncovered a Latin version.

 

Cave is associated with several teachings

Church of Pater Noster

Cloister with plaques of the Lord’s Prayer at Church of Pater Noster (Seetheholyland.net)

The Gospels suggest that Jesus taught the Lord’s Prayer at least twice. Matthew 6:5-15 has this teaching as part of the Sermon on the Mount in Galilee; Luke 11:1-4 has it while Jesus is on his way from Galilee to Jerusalem.

The cave under the Pater Noster Church certainly existed in Jesus’ time. Near the summit of the mount, it would have been a secluded and sheltered place for a small group to gather.

The earliest reference to Jesus teaching in the cave is in the apocryphal Acts of John, dating from the 2nd century, but it does not specifically mention the Lord’s Prayer.

Later the Christian bishop and historian Eusebius (260-339) wrote that “in that cave the Saviour of the Universe initiated the members of his guild in ineffable mysteries”.

When the Emperor Constantine built a three-level church on the site in 330, it commemorated the Ascension of Christ. This historic church was known simply as the Eleona (from the Greek word meaning “of olives”).

The cave is also believed to be associated with Jesus’ teaching about the destruction of Jerusalem and his Second Coming (Matthew 24,25).

A princess built the church

The present church and its cloister were completed in 1874 by an Italian woman who was the widow of a French prince.

Church of Pater Noster

Tomb of the Princess de la Tour d’Auvergne in Church of Pater Noster (James Emery)

Aurélie de Bossi, the Princess de la Tour d’Auvergne, had a particular devotion to the Lord’s Prayer. She erected translations of the prayer in 39 different languages.

Later she added a convent for Carmelite Sisters. While the buildings were being constructed, she lived nearby in a wooden cabin brought from France.

The princess was also keenly interested in the cave — which she never discovered, although she suggested where it might be.

Excavations by archaeologists in 1911 found the cave exactly where she had predicted it to be. It was partly collapsed when it was discovered.

The princess died in Florence in 1889, but her last wish was for her remains to rest in the Pater Noster Church, in a tomb which she had prepared. Her wish was fulfilled in 1957. On top of her sarcophagus is a life-size effigy.

 

New church was abandoned

Pater Noster Church is a part-reconstruction of Constantine’s Eleona church. Built to the same dimensions, it gives a good idea of what that original Byzantine basilica looked like. The garden outside the three doors outlines the atrium area.

In 1920 construction began on a new Church of the Sacred Heart over the grotto. Work was abandoned in 1927 when funds ran out, leaving the base and walls open to the sky.

Steps below the altar platform lead down to the crypt of the 4th-century basilica, partially built in the cave. But only a little of the stonework remains of that original church.

A 1st-century tomb, which Constantine’s engineers had blocked up with masonry, can now be seen.

 

In Scripture:

Jesus teaches the Lord’s Prayer: Matthew 6:7-14; Luke 11:1-4

Jesus foretells his Second Coming: Matthew 24,25

 

Administered by: Carmelite Sisters

Tel.: 972-2-6283143

Open: 8am-noon, 2-5pm (Sunday closed).

 

 

References

Bar-Am, Aviva: Beyond the Walls: Churches of Jerusalem (Ahva Press, 1998)
Inman, Nick, and McDonald, Ferdie (eds): Jerusalem & the Holy Land (Eyewitness Travel Guide, Dorling Kindersley, 2007)
Kilgallen, John J.: A New Testament Guide to the Holy Land (Loyola Press, 1998)
Murphy-O’Connor, Jerome: The Holy Land: An Oxford Archaeological Guide from Earliest Times to 1700 (Oxford University Press, 2005)
Pixner, Bargil: With Jesus in Jerusalem — his First and Last Days in Judea (Corazin Publishing, 1996)
Walker, Peter: In the Steps of Jesus (Zondervan, 2006)
Wareham, Norman, and Gill, Jill: Every Pilgrim’s Guide to the Holy Land (Canterbury Press, 1996)

 

External links

Convent of Pater Noster (Christus Rex)
The Lord’s Prayer (Catholic Encyclopedia)
Church of Pater Noster panoramas (Jesus in Jerusalem)
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Church of Dominus Flevit

Jerusalem

Church of Dominus Flevit

Teardrop-shaped Church of Dominus Flevit (Seetheholyland.net)

The little teardrop Church of Dominus Flevit, halfway down the western slope of the Mount of Olives, recalls the Gospel incident in which Jesus wept over the future fate of Jerusalem.

This poignant incident occurred during Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem on the first Palm Sunday, when crowds threw their cloaks on the road in front of him and shouted, “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!”

Looking down on the city, Jesus wept over it as he prophesied its future destruction. Enemies would “set up ramparts around you and surround you, and hem you in on every side . . . crush you to the ground . . . and they will not leave within you one stone upon another; because you did not recognise the time of your visitation from God.” (Luke 19:37-44)

Within 40 years, in AD 70, Jesus’ prophesy was fulfilled. Roman legions besieged Jerusalem and, after six months of fighting, burnt the Temple and levelled the city.

 

Teardrop shape recalls Christ’s grief

Church of Dominus Flevit

Window behind the altar in the Church of Dominus Flevit (© Custodia Terrae Sanctae)

The panoramic view from the Church of Dominus Flevit (Latin for “the Lord wept”) makes it easy to imagine the scene as Christ looked down on the city.

• Rising proud behind the city wall, in the place of today’s Dome of the Rock, stood the Temple — a gleaming vision of white marble and gold facings, huge bronze doors and colonnaded porticos.

• Beyond rose the grand Hasmonean palace, then serving as the Praetorium, and Herod’s Upper Palace with its three enormous towers.

• And in the houses and the streets were the men, women and children of Jerusalem, unaware of the fate that was to befall the Holy City.

Italian architect Antonio Barluzzi symbolised Christ’s grief over the city by designing the Dominus Flevit Church in the shape of a teardrop, with tear phials on the four corners of its dome.

Church of Dominus Flevit

Hen and chickens on altar in Church of Dominus Flevit (Seetheholyland.net)

At the foot of the altar, a mosaic of a hen gathering her chickens under her wings recalls Christ’s words “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!” (Luke 13:34)

Behind the altar is a much-photographed picture window overlooking the city. The cross and chalice in its arch-shaped design focus not on the Dome of the Rock but on the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

 

Ancient mosaic floor is preserved

The Church of Dominus Flevit was built in 1955, but occupies an ancient site. It stands on the ruins of a Byzantine church from the 5th century, dedicated to the prophetess St Anna, and in an area of tombs dating back as far as 1600 BC.

Examples of the two types of tombs discovered by excavators have been left visible.

Also unearthed were the remains of an elaborate mosaic floor from the Byzantine church. It has been preserved, to the left of the entrance.

The mosaic is richly decorated with intersecting circles and pictures of fruit, leaves and flowers.

An inscription in Greek refers to Simon, a “friend of Christ”, who “decorated this place of prayer and offered it to Christ our Lord for the forgiveness of his sins and for the repose of his brother . . . .”

In Scripture:

Jesus laments over Jerusalem: Luke 13:34

Jesus weeps over Jerusalem: Luke 19:37-44

 

Administered by: Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land

Tel.: 972-2-6266450

Open: 8-11.45am; 2.30-5pm

 

 

References

Bar-Am, Aviva: Beyond the Walls: Churches of Jerusalem (Ahva Press, 1998)
Inman, Nick, and McDonald, Ferdie (eds): Jerusalem & the Holy Land (Eyewitness Travel Guide, Dorling Kindersley, 2007)
Murphy-O’Connor, Jerome: The Holy Land: An Oxford Archaeological Guide from Earliest Times to 1700 (Oxford University Press, 2005)
Pixner, Bargil: With Jesus in Jerusalem – his First and Last Days in Judea (Corazin Publishing, 1996)
Walker, Peter: In the Steps of Jesus (Zondervan, 2006)

External links

Dominus Flevit (Christus Rex)
Dominus Flevit panorama (Jerusalem360.com)
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Church of All Nations

Jerusalem

Church of All Nations

Facade of Church of All Nations (Seetheholyland.net)

The Church of All Nations, standing near the foot of the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, is built over the rock on which Jesus is believed to have prayed in agony the night before he was crucified.

The church and the adjacent Garden of Gethsemane, with its eight ancient olive trees, provide an evocative place for meditation, especially when visited at night.

The church is also known as the Basilica of the Agony. Completed in 1924, it is the third church on the site.

Its design blends the façade of a typically Roman basilica with a roof of 12 small domes that suggest an Eastern character. The richly-coloured triangular mosaic at the top of the façade makes it a Jerusalem landmark.

 

Jesus prayed in anguish

Church of All Nations

Rock of Agony in the Church of All Nations (Seetheholyland.net)

The Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke tell that Jesus and his disciples went to the Mount of Olives after the Last Supper.

He left eight of the disciples together in one place and withdrew further with Peter, James and John. He asked them — the three who had witnessed his Transfiguration — to stay awake with him while he prayed.

Jesus “threw himself on the ground” (Matthew 26:39) and in his anguish “his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down on the ground” (Luke 22:44). But the three disciples, all of them fishermen who were used to working through the night, could not stay awake “because of grief” (Luke 22:45).

Then a group from the chief priests and elders arrived to arrest Jesus. They were led by Judas, who betrayed his Master with a kiss.

 

Sombre atmosphere in church

Church of All Nations

Main altar in Church of All Nations (Seetheholyland.net)

An atmosphere of sorrowful reverence pervades the Church of All Nations. The architect, Antonio Barluzzi, evoked the night-time of the Agony by leaving the interior in semi-darkness, relieved only by subdued natural light filtered through violet-blue alabaster windows.

The sombre blue of a star-studded night sky is recreated in the ceiling domes, the stars being surrounded by olive branches reminiscent of the Gethsemane garden.

In front of the high altar is a flat outcrop of rock, which a long Christian tradition identifies as the Rock of Agony where Jesus prayed.

There is a large mosaic in each of the three apses. From left to right, they represent The Kiss of Judas, Christ in Agony being Consoled by an Angel, and The Arrest of Jesus.

 

Many nations contributed

The basilica is called the Church of All Nations because many countries contributed to the cost of construction.

National symbols of 12 donors — Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, England, France, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Spain and the United States of America — are inside the ceiling domes.

The mosaics in the apses were donated by Hungary, Ireland and Poland. The wrought-iron wreath around the Rock of Agony was given by Australia.

The wreath is in the form of a crown of thorns with olive branches. A pair of thorn birds in front of a Communion chalice symbolise souls who wish to share the cup of Christ’s Passion. Two silver doves are depicted as sacrificial victims caught in agony in the thorns.

Original mosaic floor discovered

During construction, parts of the mosaic floor of the original Byzantine church were discovered. These were preserved under glass and may be seen in the floor of the south aisle.

The architect then decided to copy this 4th-century mosaic design in the floor of the modern church, to suggest a spiritual continuity throughout the ages of faith.

Church of All Nations

Triangular mosaic on facade of Church of All Nations (Seetheholyland.net)

On the façade of the Church of All Nations, the triangular area over the great portal displays a much-photographed mosaic.

Christ is depicted as the mediator between God and mankind, on whose behalf he gives his very heart which an angel is shown receiving into his hands.

On Christ’s left, a throng of lowly people, in tears, look to him with confidence. On his right, a group of the powerful and wise acknowledge the shortcomings of their might and learning.

On the summit of the façade stand two stags on either side of a cross. Below the mosaic, statues of the four Evangelists are separated by three arches.

Related site:

Gethsemane

In Scripture:

Jesus prays in Gethsemane: Matthew 26:36-46; Mark 14:32-42; Luke 22:39-46; Mark 32-42

Jesus is arrested: Matthew 26:47-56; Mark 14:43-50; Luke 22:47-53; John 18:1-12

 

Administered by: Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land

Tel.: 972-2-6266444

Open: 8am-noon, 2-6pm (5pm Oct-Mar)

 

References

Bar-Am, Aviva: Beyond the Walls: Churches of Jerusalem (Ahva Press, 1998)
Gonen, Rivka: Biblical Holy Places: An illustrated guide (Collier Macmillan, 1987)
Maier, Paul L. (trans.): Josephus: The Essential Writings (Kregel Publications, 1988)
Murphy-O’Connor, Jerome: The Holy Land: An Oxford Archaeological Guide from Earliest Times to 1700 (Oxford University Press, 2005)
Dillon, Edward: “The Sanctuaries at Gethsemane”, Holy Land, spring 1998
Storme, Albert: Gethsemane (Franciscan Printing Press, 1970)
Wareham, Norman, and Gill, Jill: Every Pilgrim’s Guide to the Holy Land (Canterbury Press, 1996)

 

External links

Gethsemane (Custodia Terrae Sanctae)
The Church of All Nations panorama (Jesus in Jerusalem)
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Chorazin

Israel

Chorazin

Ruins of Chorazin (David Niblack)

The ruins of Chorazin, one of the three Galilean cities cursed by Jesus, look down on the northern end of the Sea of Galilee.

Residents of Chorazin lived within sight of Bethsaida and Capernaum, two of the other cities in what has become known as the “evangelical triangle”, because most of Jesus teachings and miracles occurred there.

All three — more likely villages than cities — incurred Jesus’ condemnation (“Woe to you, Chorazin!”) because their people did not accept his teachings and repent (Matthew 11:20-24).

Chorazin (also spelt Korazim) is 3.5 kilometres due north of the Mount of Beatitudes. Jewish writings say its wheat was of exceptional quality.

The town expanded considerably after Jews were expelled from Judea in AD 135, but Eusebius around 330 described it as being in ruins, apparently following an earthquake. Life returned over the next 100 years, when the synagogue was rebuilt, until the 8th century.

Settlement was resumed in the 13th century and a small population remained until the beginning of the 20th century, when the site was abandoned.

Synagogue with Seat of Moses

Chorazin

Richly adorned gable of synagogue at Chorazin (Seetheholyland.net)

The remains of an elaborate synagogue are a striking feature of the ruins of Chorazin. It was rebuilt in the 3rd or 4th centuries, when the town was thriving.

Constructed of local black basalt stone, the synagogue stood on an elevated area in the centre of the town. A broad staircase led to its façade, which faced south towards Jerusalem.

It had one large hall, with stone benches around the walls for the community to sit during services. The absence of an upper gallery for women suggests the sexes were not segregated at the time it was built.

An unusual find in the ruins of the synagogue was the Seat of Moses, carved out of a single basalt block, from which the Torah would have been read. On its back was an inscription in Aramaic. The original seat is in the Israel Museum in Jerusalem but a copy remains in the ruins at Chorazim.

Decorations carved in the stone include Jewish motifs, geometric designs and patterns incorporating local flowers and animals. The construction methods showed that the builders were skilled in using the basalt stone, which was brittle and easily broken.

Near the synagogue is a ritual bath (mikveh). To the east of the synagogue are two large buildings, dating from the 4th century, which each probably housed an extended family. The rooms were entered from a large cobblestone courtyard.

 

In Scripture:

Jesus condemns Chorazin: Matthew 11:20-24, Luke 10:13-14

 

Administered by: Israel National Parks Authority

Tel.: 972-4-693-4982

Open: Apr-Sept 8am-5pm; Oct-Mar 8am-4pm; Fridays and eves of holidays, 8am-3pm. Last entry to site one hour before closing time.

 

 

References

Gonen, Rivka: Biblical Holy Places: An illustrated guide (Collier Macmillan, 1987)
Murphy-O’Connor, Jerome: The Holy Land: An Oxford Archaeological Guide from Earliest Times to 1700 (Oxford University Press, 2005)
Rainey, Anson F., and Notley, R. Steven: The Sacred Bridge: Carta’s Atlas of the Biblical World (Carta, 2006)
Schaiek. Z.: The Sea of Galilee (Palphot, 1997?)

 

External links

Chorazin (University of Notre Dame)
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Cenacle

Jerusalem

Cenacle

Cenacle or Upper Room (© Israel Ministry of Tourism)

The Cenacle room on Mt Zion in Jerusalem is where two major events in the early Christian Church are commemorated: The Last Supper and the coming of the Holy Spirit on the apostles.

• The Last Supper was the meal Jesus shared with his apostles the night before he died. During this meal he instituted the Eucharist.

• The coming of the Holy Spirit, at Pentecost, is recognised as marking the birth of the Christian Church.

The Cenacle is on the upper floor of a two-storey building near the Church of the Dormition, south of the Zion Gate in the walls of Jerusalem’s Old City.

Above it is the minaret of a Muslim mosque; immediately beneath it is the Jewish shrine venerated as the Tomb of King David (though he is not buried there).

 

Different from da Vinci

Cenacle

Pilgrims in the Cenacle (Berthold Werner)

The Cenacle is not universally accepted as the site of the “upper room” mentioned in Mark 14:15 and Luke 22:12.

But archaeological research shows it is constructed on top of a church-synagogue built by the first-century Jewish-Christian community of Jerusalem. Fragments of plaster have been found with Greek graffiti, one of which has been interpreted as containing the name of Jesus.  This would have been the first Christian church.

The only competing site is the Syrian Orthodox Church of St Mark (also on Mt Zion), which also claims to possess the “upper room”.

Wherever the site, the original place of the Last Supper would have been a simple dining hall — quite different from those depicted in paintings by Leonardo da Vinci and other artists.

Symbol of a pelican’s blood

Cenacle

Pelicans feed on their mother’s blood on a column in the Cenacle (© Custodia Terrae Sanctae)

The present Gothic-arched Cenacle is a restoration of a Crusader chapel built in the 12th century as part of the Church of Our Lady of Mount Zion.

Among the architectural details of the Crusader period is a slender marble column supporting a stone canopy in the south-west corner. Carved into the capital at the top of the column are two young pelicans feeding on the blood their mother has drawn from her breast — symbolising Christ giving his blood for the salvation of humankind.

In the 16th century, after the Turks captured Jerusalem, the room was transformed into a mosque in memory of the prophet David. Its mihrab (a niche indicating the direction of Mecca) and stained-glass windows with Arabic inscriptions remain.

 

Where Peter was left knocking

According to one early Christian tradition, the “upper room” was in the home of Mary the mother of John Mark. He was the author of the Gospel of Mark (and presumably also the young man who fled naked, leaving behind his linen garment, to escape the authorities when Jesus was arrested in the garden at Gethsemane, an event he recorded in Mark 14:51).

This house was a meeting place for the followers of Jesus. It was inside the city walls of Jerusalem, in a quarter that was home to its most affluent residents.

It was also the house to which Peter went after an angel of the Lord released him from prison. Acts 12:12-16 says a maid named Rhoda was so overjoyed at recognising his voice that she left him knocking at the outer gate while she went to tell the gathered disciples.

 

Obtained at huge cost

The site of the Cenacle was also the first holy place the Franciscans obtained, bought in 1335 through the efforts of King Robert and Queen Sancia of Naples, “after difficult negotiations and huge expenses”.

The structures around the “upper room” are in fact remnants of the Franciscan medieval friary.

Over the centuries the buildings the Franciscans constructed were frequently destroyed and friars were ill-treated and even killed.

 

In Scripture:

The Last Supper: Matthew 26:17-30; Mark 14:12-25; Luke 22:7-23; John 13:1—17:26

Institution of the Eucharist: 1 Corinthians 11:23-26

The coming of the Holy Spirit: Acts 2:1-4

Administered by: Israel Ministry of the Interior

Tel.: 972-2-6713597 (Franciscan chapel)

Open: 8am-5pm daily

 

 

References

Freeman-Grenville, G. S. P.: The Holy Land: A Pilgrim’s Guide to Israel, Jordan and the Sinai (Continuum Publishing, 1996)
Gonen, Rivka: Biblical Holy Places: An illustrated guide (Collier Macmillan, 1987)
Mackowski, Richard M.: Jerusalem: City of Jesus (William B. Eerdmans, 1980)
Murphy-O’Connor, Jerome: Keys to Jerusalem (Oxford University Press, 2012)
Notley, R. Steven: Jerusalem: City of the Great King (Carta Jerusalem, 2015)
Pixner, Bargil: With Jesus in Jerusalem – his First and Last Days in Judea (Corazin Publishing, 1996)
Poni, Shachar: “Renovating Royal Tomb” (The Jewish Voice, February 5, 2010)
Walker, Peter: In the Steps of Jesus (Zondervan, 2006)
Wareham, Norman, and Gill, Jill: Every Pilgrim’s Guide to the Holy Land (Canterbury Press, 1996)

 

External links

Church of the Apostles found on Mt Zion (Biblical Archaeological Review)
The Cenacle (Biblical Archaeology)
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