Gethsemane and the Church of Nations

One of the most sacred places in Jerusalem is the garden of Gethsemane. The olive trees there are hundreds of years old. Many believe they are the very same trees that Jesus saw on the day he was arrested

“Gethsemane” comes from “Gat Shemen,” which in Hebrew means olive press. Of course this is due to the many natural growing olive trees there. This place is special to the Gospel where it is told that Jesus spent his last night there praying: "And they came to a place which was named Gethsemane: and he saith to his disciples, Sit ye here, while I shall pray" (Matthew, XXVI 36).

This reminiscent sight in Jerusalem is ideal for the rise of the Church of All Nations. Also known as the Basilica of the Agony, as reference to Jesus' night of Passion there.

Italian architect Antonio Barluzzi designed the church in 1924. The unique design is a harmonious mixture of outstanding Islamic architectural features, such as domed roof and sides of the building, and Christian basilica in the front. Many countries helped fund the building of the church, thus the name “Church of all nations.” A slight oriental reference is noticeable in the domes where the flags of the nations are displayed. A Byzantine church was built on the same grounds in the 4th century, later converted to a basilica by the Crusaders.

At the top of the steps stands a wrought iron fence enclosing the front of the church. The atrium arches are supported by a mass of pillars surrounding the atrium. The tympanum is decorated with a contemporary mosaic representing Jesus as the connection between mortals and God. Traces of the ancient Byzantine church can be seen inside on the remains of the mosaic. The most prominent aspect of the church is the presbytery and the high altar that are behind a large piece of the rock, believed to be where Jesus prayed the night before the Passion.

Surrounding the rock is a circle of thorns made of wrought iron. A mosaic in the apse symbolizes Christ's suffering and being comforted by an angel. More representations of occurrences in Christ's passion, like his arrest and the Kiss of Judas can be seen in the side apses