Paternoster Church

Paternoster Church

Another sight on the Mount of Olives is the so-called Paternoster Church. On the Mount of Olives, on the site of what is now the 19th-century Carmelite Church, Jesus gave the world the Lord’s Prayer. In the 4th century, Empress Helena, the mother of Emperor Constantine, who converted to Christianity, built the so-called Eleona Church. (Church of the Ascension). Here to remind humankind of Jesus’ prophecy of the destruction of Jerusalem. This church was built over a cave where Jesus taught his disciples the Lord’s Prayer on the way to Bethany. In today’s Paternoster Church, ” Our Father…” is written in 140 languages on large plaques.

However, this Constantinian church was destroyed in 614 by the Persians. The property, which has been considered the birthplace of the Lord’s Prayer since Crusader times, was purchased in 1868 by the French Princess Aurelie de La Tour d’Auvergne. Between 1874 and 1875, the current church and the convent, inhabited by French Carmelite nuns, were built. The church initially contained 39 versions of the prayer. Only in 1911 was that cave under the church discovered, the existence of which the princess was always convinced but could not uncover. There are majolica panels on the porch and the abbey walls with the Lord’s Prayer text in 140 languages. 

History of the Paternoster Church

The Paternoster Church is a Roman Catholic church on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem. The church is part of a Carmelite monastery, also known as the Sanctuary of Eleona (French: Domaine de l’Eleona). The Church of the Pater Noster stands right next to the traditional site of the teaching of the Lord’s Prayer of Christ (Luke 11:2-4), a cave containing the crypt and heart of the 4th-century Byzantine church of Eleonasformed. The ruins of Eleonas were rediscovered in the 20th century, and its walls were partially rebuilt. Today the land on which both churches and the monastery stand formally belongs to France.

The modern Paternoster Church was built adjacent to the 4th-century basilica commissioned by Constantine I. To commemorate the ascension of Jesus Christ. The building was constructed under the direction of Constantine’s mother, Helena. In the early 4th century, who called this building the ” Church of the Disciples “. The travelogue of the pilgrim Egeria from the late 4th century was the first surviving source in which the church of Eleonas (Greek: olive grove) is mentioned. Egeria (also called Aetheria or Etheria) was a late antique author from northern Spainor Gaul. Who traveled the Holy Land as a pilgrim in the late 4th century, probably from 381 to 384. And wrote a travelogue about it as a letter to other women.

Reconstruction of the Paternoster Church

It was finally abandoned around 1345 and left to rot. In 1851 the remaining stones of the 4th-century church were sold for tombstones in the Valley of Josaphat. The site of the church was acquired by Princess Aurelia Bossi de la Tour d’Auvergne in the second half of the 19th century, and the search for the cave mentioned by the early pilgrims began. 

In 1868 she built a convent modeled on the Campo Santo in Pisa, Italy, and in 1872 founded a Carmelite convent. In the 1870s became, a monastery church was built. Finally, in 1910, the foundations were found over the venerated cave, extending partially under the modern cloister. The monastery was moved nearby, and the Byzantine church’s reconstruction began in 1915.

Reconstruction stopped in 1927 when funds ran out, and the renewed Church of Eleona remained unfinished. The small monastery church stands at the eastern end of the modern monastery, while the partially reconstructed Byzantine church stands to the west. The 4th-century Byzantine church has been partially rebuilt and gives a good idea of ​​what the original looked like. The dimensions of the church are the same as the original, and the garden outside the three doors outlines the atrium area. The church is unroofed and has steps leading into a cave. Some Christians believe Jesus made his disciples reveal the prophecy of the destruction of Jerusalem and the Second Coming.

paternoster church

Representation of Pater Noster Church

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This church is mentioned by the pilgrim Egeria (381-384) and in the Annals of Eutichio (X century). It was also called the church of the “apostles.” They wanted to associate the memory of the Ascension and the cave with it. According to tradition, Jesus went with the apostles to instruct them and teach them to pray. A rule based on the fact that Luke in the Gospel of him (11: 1-4) refers to the teaching of the Pater immediately after Jesus visits Bethany. To the sisters of Lazarus (Lk 10: 38-42). The place was also called the “cave of the teachings.”

In the sec. XIV, the belief spread that the apostles had composed the Creed in a cave on the Mount of Olives. They called the Apostolic Symbol. But this hypothesis would have no value. There is no specific news, but one can reasonably think that the church of Eleona was destroyed. Like many others by the Persians (614).


The Paternoster Church is also mentioned by a pilgrim from Bordeaux in the Itinerarium Burdigalense around 333. And the historian Eusebius of Caesarea says that Constantine built a church over a cave on the Mount of Olives, connected with the Ascension. The church remained intact until the Persians destroyed it in 614. The memory of Jesus’ teaching remained associated with this site, and during the Crusades, it became exclusively related to the education of the Lord’s Prayer. The Crusaderserected, a small oratory amidst the ruins in 1106 and a whole church, was erected in 1152, thanks to donations donated by the Danish Bishop Svend of Viborg, who is buried in the church. During the siege of Jerusalem by Sultan Saladin in 1187, the Crusader Church was severely damaged.