The Church of All Nations (Basilica of the Agony), is a Roman Catholic Church located at the foot of the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, next to the Garden of Gethsemane. It enshrines a section of bedrock, the Rock of Agony, where Jesus is said to have prayed, along with the Garden of Gethsemane, before his arrest and crucifixion.
Two previous churches were built on this site – the first small church was abandoned and the second was destroyed by an earthquake. The present church was built between 1919 and 1924 around the Rock of Agony where Jesus prayed on the night before his crucifixion.
The coat-of-arms of twelve countries that donated to the church’s construction are incorporated into the ceiling, each in a separate, small dome, and into the interior mosaics. The crown around the Rock of Agony was donated by Australia. These multi-national donations give the church the Church of All Nations.
The interior is in semi-darkness, keeping with the somber nature of the location, relieved only by subdued natural light filtered through violet-blue alabaster windows and the ceiling is a deep blue to simulate a night sky. The stars in the dome are surrounded by olive branches reminiscent of the Garden of Gethsemane.
There is a large mosaic in each of the three apses. From left to right, they represent The Kiss of Judas, Christ in Agony being consoled by an Angel, and The Arrest of Jesus.
On the triangular area at the top of the façade, there is a mosaic that depicts Christ as the mediator between God and mankind on whose behalf he gives his heart which an angel is shown receiving into their hands.
On Jesus’ left, there is a throng of lowly people; on his right, there is a group of the powerful and wise. At the top of the façade there are two male, horned deer with a cross in between them.
Beneath the mosaic, there are statues of the four evangelists, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
Earlier in the day, I couldn’t approach the Western Wall without a yamaka to cover my head. When I entered the Church of All Nations wearing a ballcap, I was told to take it off. Religion can be so confusing.