Dominus Flevit Church

By the Editors of the Madain Project

Dominus Flevit Church is a small Fransciscan church located on the upper western slope of the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem. The current church stands on the ruins of a 7th-century church, some mosaics of which still remain. The western window in Dominus Flevit provides a beautiful view of the Temple Mount.


Dominus Flevit is a Roman Catholic church on the Mount of Olives, opposite the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem. The church was designed and constructed between 1953 and 1955 by the Italian architect Antonio Barluzzi and is held in trust by the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land. (inspect). According to tradition, this is the site where Jesus was looking at the city, visualizing its destruction, and weeping over its fate.

Brief History


The site of Jesus' weeping was unmarked until the Crusader era. It was during this time that people began commemorating the site. Eventually a small chapel was built there. After the fall of Jerusalem in 1187 CE, the church fell into ruin. In the early sixteenth century CE an Islamic mosque or madrasah existed at the site, presumably built by the Turks, from the remains of the earlier church, although the exact use is disputed. This place was known as el Mansouriyeh (The Triumphant) and also el Khelweh (The Hermitage).

The Church


Location and Access
A steep road descends along the northern border of the huge cemetery of Mount Olives, down to the Basilica of Agony and the Kidron valley. The church is located half way down; its gate is just behind the person walking down the road. The old city walls are seen in the background.


Unusual Orientation
In contrast to the general rule of east-west orientation, the chapel is oriented west-east, with it's apse towards the west overlooking the Temple Mount (peek outside) across the Kidron Valley. This orientation refers to Luke 19, where Jesus is said to be coming down from the Mount of Olives and weeps over the impending destruction of Jerusalem and the Second Temple. The altar (inspect) is located on the western side, over viewing the old city. The window behind it frames a view of the old city behind it.


In the 5th a Byzantine Monastery and chapel was built at this site. The present church is built over its ruins, and parts of this mosaic floor can be seen to the left of the entrance and inside the chapel (inspect). During the Persian or early Arab period, the site was forgotten, and in the Crusaders period a small chapel was built here.

Previous Structures


Byzantine Mosaics
The Byzantine mosaic floor (inspect), dating to the beginning of the seventh century CE. The floor is surrounded by ribbons and wave motifs. The centre of the carpet is divided by squares containing round frames. The circles contain fruit, vegetables, flowers and fish. The Byzantine mosaic attest to the importance of agriculture for the people of the period. The motifs reflect the developed and progressive agriculture of Byzantine Palestine including Jerusalem. Some images also contain unique elements, as for instance luffa for the producing of bathing sponges, edible Snakes Melons, and figs tied by a blue string.

First-century CE Burial Cave


During construction of the sanctuary, archaeologists uncovered artifacts dating back to the Canaanite period, as well as tombs from the Second Temple and Byzantine eras. This burial cave (peek inside) is one of the at least three caves situated on the Dominus Flevit Church premises.

Mount of Olives


An aerial view of the Mount of Olives, the Church of Dominus Flevit lies on the western slope of the Mt. of Olives in Jerusalem. It is named for the olive groves that once covered its slopes during biblical times. The southern part of the Mount was the Silwan necropolis, attributed to the ancient Judean kingdom. The mount has been used as a Jewish cemetery for over 3,000 years and holds approximately 150,000 graves, making it central in the tradition of Jewish cemeteries.


See Also


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