The Roman Catholic Church of the Pater Noster (Our Father) stands on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem alongside the ruins of the 4th century Church of Eleona; a Carmelite monastery; cloisters and a cave where Jesus is believed to have taught his apostle the Lord’s Prayer. The 2nd century apocryphal Acts of John mentions a cave on the Mt. of Olives where Jesus taught G_d’s word. The cave would have existed in Jesus’ lifetime and would have been a convenient site where Jesus and his disciples could have found a quiet, sheltered spot to learn the Lord’s Prayer.
History of the Site of the Pater Noster
The Church of Eleona was commissioned by the Christian Roman Emperor, Constantine I to commemorate the site of Christ’s ascension to heaven and was eventually destroyed in 614 by the Persians. In the 12th century the Crusaders associated the site with the teaching of the Lord’s Prayer and built a church partially funded by the Bishop of Denmark who was buried here with his butler. The Crusader church fell into ruins in the 14th century. In the 19th century the stones from the ruined church were taken and used as headstones.
Princess Aurelia Bossi de la Tour d’Auvergne
The French Princess Aurelia Bossi bought the land in 1868 and had a Carmelite convent and cloisters built. In 1872 she founded a Carmelite convent and began reconstruction of the ruined Byzantine church in 1874. Due to lack of funds the project was halted and remains incomplete. The cave where Jesus taught was uncovered in 1910 in the crypt of the former 4th century church. According to her wishes Princess Aurelia Bossi is buried in a tomb at the entrance to the current church. In 1920 construction began on a new church over the sacred cave – the Sacred Heart, but the project was stopped leaving it without a roof and only partial walls.
Today the walls of the convent church, cloisters and the surviving walls of the 4th century Eleona Church are covered with ceramic plaques engraved with the Lord’s Prayer in 140 languages.