Names: Church of All Nations; Basilica of the Agony

Type of site:
Catholic church; Biblical site; footsteps of Jesus



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Church Of All Nations

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The Church of All Nations, also known as the Church of the Agony or the Basilica of the Agony, is a Roman Catholic church located on Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, next to the Garden of Gethsemane. It enshrines a section of bedrock where Jesus is said to have prayed before the night of his arrest.
The Basilica of the Agony at the Garden of Gethsemane - Church of All Nations
Built in 1924 on the traditional site of the Garden of Gethsemane, the Basilica of the Agony enshrines a section of bedrock identified as the place where Jesus prayed alone in the garden on the night of his arrest. Although it is not certain that this is the exact spot, the setting does fit the Gospel description, and the present church, designed by the architect Antonio Barluzzi, rests on the foundations of two earlier shrines: a 12th-century Crusader chapel, abandoned in 1345; and a 4th-century Byzantine basilica, destroyed by the earthquake in 746. (A rock on the way up to the Mount of Olives is mentioned by the Pilgrim of Bordeaux in 333, who identifies it as the place where Judas Iscariot betrayed Jesus.)
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Church Of All Nations Jerusalem

Mass at Church of All Nations, Jerusalem
Church of All Nations
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The windows in the present church are made from translucent purplish-blue alabaster, which gives an intended dimmed-lighting effect to the interior. Six monolithic columns support 12 cupolas, the insides of which are decorated with mosaic tiles depicting the national emblems of the donor communities. This decoration gave rise to the popular name, "Church of All Nations".
The name Gethsemane is a Greek form of the Hebrew gat shemanim ([olive] oil press). Eight olive trees in the adjoining garden are very ancient. (The dating of olive trees is difficult as they renew both trunk and root structure so that a young- looking tree may in fact have ancient roots).
In the garden is an open altar, placed there by the Franciscan fathers in an ecumenical gesture to the Anglican community, which holds Maundy Thursday services there on the eve of Good Friday.
Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, "Sit here while I go over there and pray." He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, "My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me." Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will."
-- Matthew 26:36-39
Church of All Nations
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