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Named for “Our Father” prayer (Pater Noster), the Church of the Pater Noster also known as the Sanctuary of the Eleona stands on the traditional site in the Mount of Olives, Jerusalem where Jesus taught his disciples the Lord’s Prayer (Luke 11:2-4). This partially reconstructed Roman Catholic Church stands today in land formally belonging to France, which makes for an interesting Holy Land trip story.

The 4th century Byzantine church has been partially reconstructed, and gives great reference of what the original church looked like. With no roof the church has steps leading into a grotto where many Christians believe that Jesus revealed to his disciples the prophesy of the destruction of Jerusalem in the second coming (Matthew 24). Unfortunately the cave containing the grotto partially collapsed when it was discovered in 1910. You’ll find at Pater Noster a European style cloister containing plaques bearing the Lord’s Prayer in over 100 different languages.

The church historian Eusebius (260-340) recorded that Constantine built a church over a cave on the Mount of Olives that had been linked with the Ascension (Luke 24:50-53). The church was built under the direction of Constantine's mother St. Helen and was seen by the Bordeaux pilgrim in 333. The pilgrim to the Holy Land Egeria 384 was the first to refer to this church as Eleona, meaning "of olives." The church remained intact until it was torn down by Persians in 614. The memory of Jesus’ teachings remained and after the veneration of Christ ascension moved up the hill to the Chapel of Ascension the cave became exclusively associated with the teachings of the Lord’s Prayer. Christian crusaders constructed a small oratory amid the ruins in 1106, and a complete church was built in 1152 from funds donated by the Bishop of Denmark, who is buried inside the church. The crusader era church sustained heavy damage during the Siege of Jerusalem in 1187, eventually abandoned and falling into ruin in 1345. In 1851 the remaining stones and ruins of the 4th century church were sold for tombstones in the Valley of Jehoshaphat. The site was acquired by the princess Bossi Aurelia, de la Tour d'Auvergne in the late 19th century. In 1910 the foundations over the cave were found partly beneath the cloister. The convent was moved nearby and reconstruction of the Byzantine church began in 1915. The church remains unfinished.

In the Bible
"One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, "Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples." He said to them, "When you pray, say: 'Our Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread. Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And lead us not into temptation.'" - Luke 11:1-4"