Gethsemane – Church of All Nations
The Church of All Nations, officially named the Basilica of the Agony, is located at the foot of the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem next to the Garden of Gethsemane. The Catholic church enshrines a section of stone in the Garden of Gethsemane that is believed to be where Jesus spent his last night there praying: “And they came to a place which was named Gethsemane: and he saith to his disciples, Sit ye here, while I shall pray” (Matthew, 26: 36).
The modern church stands on the foundations of two ancient churches: a 4th-century Byzantine basilica, destroyed by an earthquake in 746 and a 12th-century Crusader chapel, which was abandoned in 1345. The existing Catholic Franciscan Basilica of the Agony was built by Antonio Barluzzi, the Italian architect who also designed the nearby Dominus Flevit Church in 1919-1924.
The project received funding from 12 different countries, which gave it its nickname: “the Church of All Nations. National symbols of 12 donors — Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, England, France, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Spain and the United States of America — are inside the ceiling domes.The mosaics in the apses were donated by Hungary, Ireland and Poland. The wrought-iron wreath around the Rock of Agony was given by Australia.
The church is built on the lower western foothills of Mount of Olives, facing the Old City of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount, on the eastern side of Kidron valley. Its name (Gat Shemanim – means in Hebrew: oil press) came from the olive press that was used to process the olives.
The unique design is a mixture of Islamic architectural features, like domes on the roof and sides, and a Christian basilica in the front. In front of the high altar is a flat outcrop of rock, which a long Christian tradition identifies as the Rock of Agony where Jesus prayed. The richly-coloured triangular mosaic at the top of the façade is a Jerusalem landmark.
The Church of All Nations is run by the Franciscans, but an open altar in the garden is used by the Anglican community on Maundy Thursday (the day before Good Friday).
Open: 8am-noon, 2-6pm (5pm Oct-Mar)
Garden of Gethsemane
Gethsemane is a garden at the foot of the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem. The garden has eight ancient olive trees. A study conducted by the National Research Council of Italy in 2012 found that several olive trees in the garden are amongst the oldest known to science.