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The Catholic churches of Mount Olives

13-11-2016 | Yael Regev
The Catholic churches of Mount Olives

The most common denomination in the European world along history was, and still is, the Catholic Church. Almost half of the sacred places on Mount of Olives belong to Franciscans and other monastic orders that serves as the official representative of the Catholic Church. It is very easy to distinguish between the eastern churches architecture and catholic ones. An evident symbol is the Cross of Jerusalem, also known as the Crusader’s Cross. The Franciscans adopted it as a part of the coat of arm of the Custody of the Holy Land and that is why it appears in each and every church run by this order. All of these church are relatively new and were built on top of the old ruins of the privies chapels.

Pater Noster or the Eleona church

pater-nosterTwo different Christian tradition relates to this place:
Jesus thought his disciples Pater Noster prayer
(our father in heaven), he thought some of his disciples
the signs to his second arrival and the end of the time.
Both of them happened in the grotto in the middle of the
court yard of the church. The first church was built by
Saint Helen, mother of the emperor Constantin, in the
beginning of the 4th century. It was destroyed by the Persians
in 614. A small Chapple was built by the crusaders during
the 12th century and was destroyed by the Muslims,
when they concord the city.  A Carmelite convent was
established in 1872 in the land purchased earlier by the
French Bossi Aurelia, Princess de la Tour d’Auvergne.
The tomb of the princess (died 1889) is located here in a marble sarcophagus.
The cloister remained incomplete till today. The main attraction of the complex is the decoration.
It contains the prayer “Our father in heaven” in over 70 different languages,
including Braille in different languages.

Dominus Flevit

dominus-flevitAs he drew near, he saw the city and wept over it, saying,
“If this day you only knew what makes for peace – but now
it is hidden from your eyes. For the days are coming upon
you when your enemies will raise a palisade against you;
they will encircle you and hem you in on all sides…”
(Luke 19:41-43). Due to this tradition the modern architect,
Antonio Barluzzi, decided to build the Chapple in the shape
of a tear. The alter is west facing and not east, which is unusual,
Barluzzi wanted to give the believers the possibility to see
the view that Jesus saw decades before them.
The site of Christ’s weeping was unmarked until the Crusader
era. It was during this time that people began commemorating
the site. Eventually a small chapel was built there.
After the fall of Jerusalem in 1187, the church fell into ruin.
The excavations of the Franciscans, that took place from the end of the 19th century till the fifties,
reviled a Roman-Byzantine necropolis. Today some of the ossuary are visible to the public.

Gethsemane garden

%d7%99%d7%a8%d7%95%d7%a9%d7%9c%d7%99%d7%9d-%d7%92%d7%aa-%d7%a9%d7%9e%d7%a0%d7%99%d7%9d-%d7%92%d7%9f-%d7%a2%d7%a6%d7%99-%d7%94%d7%96%d7%99%d7%aaGethsemane in Hebrew and Aramaic, Gat Shmanim,
means “oil press”. The trees are spared on the western slopes
of the mountain. According to the Catholic tradition this is
the location where Jesus spent his last night praying,
before he was captured and crucified.
An eastern Christian tradition relates the same location to
the burial place of the Virgin Mary. Each and every church and monastery contains a small garden with a couple of old
olive trees. The most popular garden is the catholic one,
near the Church of all Nations.  Alongside the eight oldest trees, new olive trees have been planted
to replace the cypress trees and various flowering plants that in the nineteenth century.
In this specific garden you can find two special young olive trees:
the first was planted by Pope Paul VI in 1964, the second one by Pope Francis in 2014.

The Church of All Nation

getsemaneAlso known as the Basilica of Agony or the Church of
Gethsemane. Today’s building was completed during
the twenties according to the plan of Antonio Barluzzi.
He choose to relate to the previous churches and some
of the original pavement of the byzantine Chapple are visible,
from which he was inspired.
The three apsis are decorated in scenes that according to
the gospels happened here: on the right side,
Jesus ask his disciples to stay awake and pry, on the left side,
Yehuda Iscariot kiss and the arrest, in the middle Jesus pries
on the bedrock.
In front of this mosaic the bedrock of the mountain is located
with a small alter. It is considered to be the most sacred place
in the church. The nocturne atmosphere was created thank to
the use of Alabaster stone in the windows, instead of regular stained glass.
The church received the name of all Nations because the coat of arms of twelve nations decorate
the ceiling of the church. These states made a generous contribution to the building.

 

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