Church of All Nations (Basilica of Agony)

By the Editors of the Madain Project

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The Church of All Nations, also known as the Church or Basilica of the Agony, is a Roman Catholic church located on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, next to the Garden of Gethsemane. It enshrines a section of bedrock where according to biblical tradition Jesus is said to have prayed before his arrest. The church was designed by Italian architect Antonio Barluzzi and is currently held in trust by the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land.


The current church rests on the foundations of two earlier ones, that of a 4th-century CE Byzantine basilica, destroyed by an earthquake in 746 CE, and of a small 12th-century Crusader chapel abandoned in 1345 CE. In 1920 CE, during work on the foundations, a column was found two meters beneath the floor of the medieval crusader chapel. Fragments of a magnificent mosaic were also found. Following this discovery, the architect immediately removed the new foundations and began excavations of the earlier church. After the remains of the Byzantine-era church were fully excavated, plans for the new church were altered and work continued on the current basilica from April 19, 1922 until June 1924 when it was consecrated.

On December 2020, archaeologists revealed the remains of the foundations of a Second Temple-era ritual bath (also known as a mikveh) during construction work on a modern tunnel under the Church of All Nations and a 1,500 year-old Byzantine church. According to Dr. Leah and Dr. Rosario, Greek inscriptions were written on the church’s floor as : "for the memory and repose of those who love Christ… accept the offering of your servants and give them remission of sins”. According to Israel Antiquities Authority’s Jerusalem district head Amit Re’em, the uniqueness of bath is that it is the first archaeological evidence at the site of Gethsemane where Christians have made pilgrimages for centuries, in the days of Jesus.



The Facade of the Church is supported by a row of Corinthian columns with evangalists' statues atop each column. The columns and statues are set below a modern mosaic depicting Jesus Christ as mediator between God and man, designed by Giulio Bargellini. On the summit of the façade stand two stags on either side of a cross.


The interior of the Church is divided by six columns into three aisles, but with an even ceiling lacking a clerestory. This design gives the impression of one large open hall. The coat-of-arms of twelve of the countries from which donations originated are incorporated into the ceiling, each in a separate, small dome (inspect), and also into the interior mosaics.


"Rock of Agony"
The bedrock (rock of agony) where Jesus is believed to have prayed, before the main alter in the central hall. The crown around the bedrock itself was a gift of Australia, depicting the crown of thorns placed on Jesus' head by Romans.


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