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pater noster church

Set on the top of Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem’s Old City, the Church of the Pater Noster is a significant historical landmark. By Centuries-old Christian tradition it marks the spot where Jesus taught his Disciple a chant known as “The Lord’s prayer”.

Historical Review

Mount of Olives is a ridge overlooking Jerusalem’s old city that is associated with several pivotal events in Christian history. Jesus Entered Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives (Luke 21), he was captured at its foothill (Luke 22), and from its summit he ascended to the heavens after his resurrection (Acts 1). Empress Helena established the church of the Pater Noster in the 4th century, initially naming it “Eleona” (Greek for “Olives”) as it nestled within an olive grove. It was first associated with the ascension of Jesus, but later pilgrims pointed to a higher point on the mountain as the more likely spot of Jesus’ ascension.

The Church Destroyed, and Restored

In 614 AD the Persians invaded Jerusalem and plundered it. Over 26,000 of its Christian residence were massacred, and the Eleona church was destroyed. In the 13th century the Crusaders restored the church, but they associated it with the “Lord’s Prayer”:

“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” (Luke 11:2-4)

In 1857 a French noblewoman purchased the compound. The church was excavated, partially restored, and opened for visits.

Visiting the Church

The Church of the Pater Noster welcomes visitors Monday to Saturday from 8:00 to noon, and from 14:00 to 17:00. Enter the main courtyard where plaques presenting the Lord’s Prayer in over 140 languages are on display. Continue to the central cave, said to be where Jesus introduced the Lord’s prayer and the Small Apocalypse (Luke 21). This sacred space offers a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in the historical and spiritual significance of Jesus’ teachings.

Consider integrating a visit to the church of the Pater Noster with a day tour of Jerusalem or a more extensive multi-day tour of the Holy Land.

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