The Church of All Nations stands on the Mt. of Olives in Jerusalem alongside the Garden of Gethsemane facing the walls of the Old City. The church commemorates the site where Jesus prayed on the eve of his crucifixion. The modern church stands out among the other churches on the Mt. of Olives thanks to the stunning mosaic that adorns the façade.
History of the Church of All Nations
The present church was constructed on the remains of a 4th century basilica and a 12th century Crusader chapel. The church construction was funded by donations from twelve different nations earning it the name “Church of All Nations.” However the official name is Basilica of the Agony. The Roman Catholic church was designed by Antonio Barluzzi and completed in 1924.
Features of the Church of All Nations
The main feature of the church is a mosaic supported by Corinthian columns above the entrance. In the predominantly gold mosaic Christ is depicted as the connection between G_d and man. The Church of All Nations has a roof of twelve copulas giving it a bubble-like appearance. The overall impression of the church is neo-classical.
Inside there are floor mosaics reminiscent of the earlier Byzantine church. The ceiling is painted a rich blue like the night sky with gold inlay stars evoking the view Jesus would have seen as he prayed. The inner-side of the twelve cupolas is adorned with the coat-of-arms of the countries that contributed to the cost of construction. The church interior is divided into three aisles that lead to three apses. Mosaics illustrating Biblical scenes that took place in the Garden of Gethsemane cover the walls of the church and were paid for by each of the contributing nations. The interior is kept dark and solemn by violet-blue alabaster windows to emphasis Christ’s anguish. Beneath the altar is a rock believed to be where Jesus sat as prayed (Matthew 26:36 and Mark 14:32-42). In the church garden there is an open-air altar used by a number of Christian denominations for prayer services and ceremonies.