Dominus Flevit Church

| October 17, 2012 | 0 Comments
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Dominus Flevit Church

Anton17  CC BY-SA 3.0 Dominus Flevit

Dominus Flevit (Photo: Anton17, CC BY-SA 3.0)

As you walk down the western slope of the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, you will come to the pretty little Church of Dominus Flevit. Shaped like a teardrop, the church commemorates the tears shed by the Christian Savior as he envisioned the future destruction of Jerusalem.

According to the Christian Gospel, the event occurred as the Christian Savior entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. Crowds were on hand to greet him, calling out blessings and greetings, throwing down their cloaks to create a makeshift version of the red carpet, and stating he was king.

From this vantage point, the entire city of Jerusalem stretches before you. According to tradition, when the Christian Savior looked down upon the city, he could see its eventual downfall and became distraught. Only 40 years later, in 70 CE, the Roman legions laid a six-month siege to Jerusalem which ended with the burning of the Jewish Temple and the leveling of the city.  The Latin name of the church translates to, “The Lord wept.”

Church of Dominus Flevit

As Jesus looked out over the city, he would have seen the Temple with its magnificent shining exterior of white marble and gold, immense bronze doors, and tall portico columns, standing on the spot where the Dome of the Rock stands today. In the distance, he would have seen the palace of the Hasmonean Dynasty, which the Romans used as their military headquarters (Praetorium). Beyond the Praetorium, he would have seen the three gargantuan towers demarcating Herod’s Upper Palace. His vision was said to have included the men, women and children of Jerusalem milling about in the streets, completely oblivious to the tragic future awaiting them.

Berthold Werne  Public Domain View from the Dominus Flevit Church

Berthold Werne  Public Domain
View From the Church

Antonio Barluzzi, the Italian architect who built a total of 17 houses of worship in the Holy Land, designed the Dominus Flevit Church as one large teardrop shape, with teardrops dotting all four corners of the dome, one modest monument to tears. The overall shape of the chapel mimics the form of a Greek cross and is thought to be a departure from Barluzzi’s more usual restrained architectural style. Barluzzi built Dominus Flevit in 1955 upon the ruins of a 5th century CE Byzantine church commemorating St. Anna, who was said to be a prophetess.

Inside the church, the base of the altar is a mosaic of a mother hen gathering her brood beneath her wings, a reference to words in the Gospel. To the rear of the altar is a large, arched and beautifully detailed picture window from which one can see a stunning panoramic view of the city.

Mount of Olives 

The Dominus Flevit site, which lines the original route of the procession from the Mount of Olives to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, was acquired by the Franciscans in 1881.

Yoav Dothan  Public Domain Dominus Flevit Church Up Close

Yoav Dothan  Public Domain
Church Up Close

By this time, excavations had already uncovered the ruins of the earlier 5th century structure. To this day, the site is administered by the Franciscans. Open to the public from 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. Phone: 972-2-626-6450.

Dominus Flevit: Did You Know?

To access the Dominus Flevit Church, one must travel on foot by way of an almost perpendicular walkway, which is no easy feat. However you will find that the view and the architecture are well worth a bit of huffing and puffing, as long as you have adequate sun protection and water.

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Category: Christianity

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