The Catholic Franciscan Monastery of San Salvador (Sacred Savior) is located in Jerusalem’s Old City near the New Gate. This is the center of the Franciscan Order in the Holy Land and the Middle East. The extensive monastery complex encompasses a publishing house, offices, church, Catholic school, and the monks’ living quarters.
In 1560, the ruling Sultan Sulieman the Magnificent allowed the Franciscans to buy the property where the monastery stands, from the Georgian Orthodox Church. By 1850 the old church was too small for the parish, and Sultan Abdulmecid I gave permission to demolish the old structure and build anew. Construction was financed by donations including a contribution from the Austro-Hungarian Emperor Franz Joseph I and the church was completed in 1885.
The monastery church was designed by Father Raffaele Cingolani and unlike most churches, it is built on the north-south axis. In 1932 two floors were added to the church clock tower in honor of the 700th anniversary of St. Anthony of Padua. In 1985 the complex was renovated in honor of the 100th anniversary of its construction.
The Pope appointed the Franciscan Order to be custodians of the Holy Land, and preserve the interests of the Catholic Church in the east. As you enter the complex notice the Franciscan coat of arms and the symbol of the Custodia Terra Sancta carved into the gate. The magnificent church has a high ceiling covered with intricately patterned paintings.
Marble-clad columns supporting arches divide the church into two aisles and a wide nave. The tiled floor is particularly beautiful with a unique geometrical pattern. Entrance to the complex is off-limits but visitors can tour the breathtaking San Salvador Church.