Churches of IsraelJerusalem

Church of the Pater Noster

Church of the Pater Noster: This, then, is how you should pray: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. (Matthew 6:9-10)


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Church of the Pater Noster

The “Lord’s Prayer” is called the Pater Noster in Latin. The Church of the Pater Noster stands in Jerusalem (on the Mount of Olives) where Jesus is traditionally thought to have taught his disciples how to pray using this now famous prayer. Constantine built a church over the cave in the 4th century, and the Church of the Pater Noster visitors see today is a reconstruction of part of this earlier structure.

The half reconstructed 4th century Byzantine Church of the Pater Noster is the original dimensions of its predecessor. The Church of the Pater Noster does not have a roof and has stairs leading to the cave where the original Lord’s Prayer was thought to have been orated. The cave itself cuts partially into a 1st century tomb and was somewhat collapsed when rediscovered in the early 1900s.

A baptistery at the end of a mosaiced walk way awaits visitors just outside the southern door to the Church of the Pater Noster. The cloister from the 19th century is European in style and has 62 plaques, bearing the Pater Noster in 62 different languages. On the south side of the cloister lies the tomb of Princess de la Tour d’Auvergne. The Russian Church of the Ascension, built in1887, is to the right of the convent down a small, quaint path.


Though Biblically John mentions only that a cave on the Mount of Olives was used for Jesus’ teaching, Eusebius, a church historian, states that Constantine had built a church over the cave associated with the ascension of Jesus. Saint Helen, Constantine’s mother, oversaw the 4th century building of the Church of the Pater Noster. A pilgrim Egeria (384) mentions visiting the church, but he called it “Eleona,” meaning ‘of Olives.’

When the church associated with the ascension was moved up the hill, the cave began to be associated with Jesus’ teaching on good and evil found in the book of Matthew. Like much of Jerusalem in 614, this church was destroyed by the Persian invasion. It was still associated with the teaching of Jesus, however the content switched from a dialogue on good and evil to the Our Father or Lord’s Prayer.

Church of the Pater Noster

History Church of the Pater Noster

By the time the Crusaders visited the site, it was exclusively connected to the Our Father. They built a small oratory in the middle of the ruins in 1106. The Bishop of Demark donated funds to build a church in1152. He was later buried there, along with his butler. In the 12th century records from the pilgrims, we know there used to be plaques of the Lord’s Prayer in Greek, Hebrew and Latin.

This church was damaged in 1187 and completely destroyed in 1345. By the 1851, the stones of the 4th century church were being sold to Jews for their headstones in the Valley of Jehoshaphat.

Princess de la Tour d’Auvergne bought the land and began to search for the original cave. In 1868, the princess built a cloister patterned after the Campo Santo at Pisa, and in 1872 she also founded a Carmelite convent to the east. The Byzantine foundations over the original cave were found in 1910 under the cloister. The cloister was moved, and construction began on the original Byzantine Church of the Pater Noster in 1915. Construction is still ongoing.


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