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 Jesus is said to have prayed before his arrest. (Mark
The current church rests on the foundations of two earlier ones, that of a small 12th century
Crusader chapel abandoned in 1345, and a 4th century Byzantine basilica, destroyed by an
earthquake in 746. In 1920, 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.
Use by other denominations --
An open altar located in the gardens of the church is used by many Christian denominations
including followers who are Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Armenian Apostolic, Protestant,
Lutheran, Evangelical, Anglican, and any other version of Christianity or Orthodoxy that is
culturally unique to any particular nation.
Design and construction --
The chapel was built between 1919 and 1924 using funds donated from many different countries.
The respective coat-of-arms of each donating country are incorporated into the glass of the
ceiling, each in a separate, small dome, and also into the interior mosaics. The countries
honored in this way are; starting from the left side, beginning with the apse: Argentina,
Brazil, Chile and Mexico; in the middle of the church are commemorated: Italy, France, Spain
and the United Kingdom, and to the right: Belgium, Canada, Germany, and the United States of
America. The mosaics in the apses were donated by Ireland, Hungary, and Poland. The crown
around the bedrock itself was a gift of Australia. These multi-national donations give the
church its present title as the Church of "All Nations".
Two types of stone were used in the construction of the church: the interior utilizes a stone
from the quarries at Lifta, north-west of Jerusalem; and the exterior, a rose colored stone
from Bethlehem. The building is divided by six columns into three aisles. This design gives the
impression of one large open hall. Violet-colored glass was used throughout the church to evoke
a mood of depression analogous to Christ's agony, and the ceiling is painted a deep blue to
simulate a night sky.
The facade of the church is supported by a row of Corinthian columns set below a modern mosaic
depicting Jesus Christ as mediator between God and man. The designer of the facade mosaic was
Professor Giulio Bargellini. The bubble-domed roof, thick columns, and facade mosaic, give the
church a Byzantine look architecturally.
The church was designed by Italian architect Antonio Barluzzi and is currently held in trust by
the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land.