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Gethsemane the Church of all NationsGethsemane the Church of all Nations

The Church of All Nations (Basilica of the Agony) in Gethsemane “‘My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and watch with me’” (Matthew 26:38) "He withdrew about a stone's throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, 'Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.' An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground. When he rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, he found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow. 'Why are you sleeping?' he asked them. 'Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation'" (Luke 22:41-46).The Church of All Nations at Gethsemane is also called the Basilica of the Agony, and it symbolizes the place where Jesus was "overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death." The church at Gethsemane is first mentioned in the fourth century by the pilgrim Egeria, who tells of a religious procession from the Church of the Ascension to Gethsemane. The first church, which had impressive pillars with Corinthian capitals, was built on a steep slope. It was destroyed in the Persian invasion and rebuilt by the Crusaders, who called it the Church of Saint Savior.The present-day church, built by the Franciscan architect Antonio Barluzzi, was inaugurated in 1924. In order to effect an atmosphere of anguish, the ceiling of the church was lowered by means of twelve domes strewn with stars on a blue background, olive branches adorning the corners. In addition, the light in the church was made softer by means of semi-opaque windows, and a portion of the original rock was left in its original form.The church was built over the Rock of Agony, according to tradition the rock next to which Jesus prayed to God that the "cup be taken from me." The rock is surrounded by a balustrade of iron cast as a crown of thorns. On the front is a pair of birds next to a cup, and on either side, a pair of doves stretch out their necks for martyrdom.Many nations took part in the building of the church (hence its name), and their symbols decorate its apses and domes. The church is one of the most beautiful in Jerusalem, and is second in religious importance only to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.