On January 13, our Maranatha tour group visited the Church of All Nations, which is right next to the Garden of Gethsemane in Jerusalem. The Garden of Gethsemane has several olive trees that are thousands of years old – that is to say, they were already there when Jesus went there to pray before his crucifixion.
The church was built in 1919-1920, using funds from many nations, which is how it got its name. Officially, it is called Basilica of the Agony.
The church has an interesting history. The current building stands on the foundations of two other churches – one a small chapel from the time of the Crusades, and the other a 4th century Byzantine church. While doing excavations for the current church, parts of this ancient church were found – a pillar and fragments of a beautiful mosaic. Upon discovery of the Byzantine church which had been destroyed in an earthquake in 746 CE, the architect immediately removed the foundations of the new church and began excavating the old one.
The main entry to the church:
When excavations were complete, work was resumed on the current church, using plans that were altered to encompass the ruins of the Byzantine church. In June of 1924, the Catholic basilica was consecrated.
The exit door encompasses a metal sculpture of an olive tree and beautiful metalwork around the door.
The main altar
Here is the exit door from the inside.
The coat of arms of many of the countries who funded the building of the church are incorporated on the ceiling, each in a separate dome, and also in the gorgeous mosaic floor designs.
Looking up toward the central dome
There were several lovely windows like this one.
When we exited onto a walkway that leads to the garden, we passed this side door.
In the garden, the word “peace” is spelled out in stones.
Detail from the front gate from outside, incorporating many symbols: a dove, a chalice, the sun and several Jerusalem crosses.
Of all the churches we visited in Israel, this one was my favorite.