While most of the prominent churches of Jerusalem are monumental affairs devoted to particular saints or built over significant New Testament locations, a few mix the history-beneath-every-footstep character of the Holy City with an altogether more modest, personal expression of worship and devotion. Among the finest of these churches is the Church of Pater Noster, one of the many churches occupying the northern slopes of the Mount of Olives.
The site first gained its religious significance when Helena, the mother of Emperor Constantine, decreed in the 4th century that a church be built on it to commemorate the location in which Jesus predicted the fall of Jerusalem. That church, called Eleona in Greek, was destroyed by the Persians in the seventh century AD, and the site was ignored for nearly five hundred years – until the Crusaders took over the Holy Land and identified the site with Jesus' teaching of the Lord's Prayer (Pater Noster in Latin) to his disciples, recounted in the Gospel of Luke. Unfortunately, the Crusader church was razed by Saladin in 1187, and it wasn't until the 19th century that Christian activity returned.
An Italian woman who married into the French nobility, Princess de la Tour d'Auvergne, purchased the site, excavated and renovated part of the ancient 4th church and built a new chapel and cloister adjoining it. The Princess' favorite prayer was the Lord's Prayer, and she turned the cloister into a unique tribute to that powerful expression of devotion: along the walls are installed dozens upon dozens of elegant tile plaques, upon each of which the Lord's Prayer is written in a different language. Languages run from the typical to the obscure, including Ojibwe and Chaldaean.
Monday-Saturday 8:00-12:00; 14:00-17:00
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