12.8.09

Day 4 (6) Gethsemane and Church of All Nations or Basilica of the Agony


"After Jesus had said this, he went with his disciples across the Kidron valley to a place where there was a garden, which he and his disciples entered." John 18:1
We walked further down the Hosanna way to reach the Garden of Gethsemane. The garden is still rich in olive trees hundreds of years old, twisted and gnarled. The ancient trees rise from manicured flower beds. Many believe that these may be the very same olive trees that witnessed Jesus' last night before his arrest. (The word "Gethsemane" originates from the Hebrew expression Gat Shemen, which means "olive press", in obvious reference to the natural abundance of these trees. In the garden there is an open alter.
At the end of the garden is the magnificent Church of All Nations or Basilica of the Agony.This Catholic church enshrines a section of stone in the Garden of Gethsemane that is believed to be where Jesus prayed on the night of his arrest (Matthew 26:36).

The Basilica of the Agony was built from 1919 to 1924 using funds from 12 different countries, which gave it its common name, Church of All Nations.

The domed roof, thick pillars, and floor mosaic give the church a Byzantine appearance. The architect of the building was Antonio Barluzzi, who also designed the nearby Dominus Flevit Church.

The symbols of each country that contributed to the church are incorporated into the inlaid gold ceilings of each of 12 cupolas. The 12 cupolas rest on six monolithic pillars. The front of the church features a colorful fa├žade supported by a row of pillars. The mosaic above the entrance depicts Christ as the link between God and humanity.

The Church of All Nations lies on the foundations of two earlier churches: a 12th-century Crusader chapel abandoned in 1345 and a 4th-century Byzantine basilica, destroyed by an earthquake in 746.

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