Pater Noster

Tuesday 1st July 2014

While on the Mount of Olives this afternoon, I also visited the Church of the Pater Noster, or the Church of the Our Father.

Like many sites on the Mount of Olives, it has a chequered history. On the site was constructed one of Helena’s three major basilicas, the others being the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in the Old City of Jerusalem and the Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth. Like the others, this Byzantine basilica was destroyed by the Persians. The crusaders built a church on the site and dedicated it to the Pater Noster (Latin for “Our Father”. Tradition has it that in the cave on the site Jesus taught his disciples this prayer which has become the signature prayer for Christians. The story is told in the Gospel of Matthew where the setting is the Sermon on the Mount (in Galilee):

Concerning Prayer
5 “And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. 6 But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

7 “When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

9 “Pray then in this way:

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
10 Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And do not bring us to the time of trial,
but rescue us from the evil one.

14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; 15 but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
(Mt 6:5-15)

The Gospel of Luke has its slightly different version, slightly more “punchy”, the setting of which is Jesus’ journey from Galilee to Jerusalem:

The Lord’s Prayer
11 He was praying in a certain place, and after he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” 2 He said to them, “When you pray, say:

Father, hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come.
3 Give us each day our daily bread.
4 And forgive us our sins,
for we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us.
And do not bring us to the time of trial.”
(Luke 11:1-4)

View of the courtyard and church of the Pater Noster, on the Mount of Olives.  The cave/grotto where tradition says Christ taught his disciples is underneath the steps in the foreground.

View of the courtyard and church of the Pater Noster, on the Mount of Olives. The cave/grotto where tradition says Christ taught his disciples is underneath the steps in the foreground.


The courtyard of the church features the text of the Our Father in ceramic panels in at least 140 different languages. There are the standard European languages. It is interesting to wander past and find “exotic” languages. There are Asian languages. There are African languages. There are Middle Eastern languages. There are Slavonic languages. There were panels that had Braille texts of different languages. There are languages that despite their labels I could not even recognise what they were or from where they came.

Here is a sample of some of the languages:

The Our Father in English, Church of the Pater Noster, the Mount of Olives

The Our Father in English, Church of the Pater Noster, the Mount of Olives


The Our Father in Arabic, Church of the Pater Noster, the Mount of Olives

The Our Father in Arabic, Church of the Pater Noster, the Mount of Olives


The Our Father in Hebrew, Church of the Pater Noster, the Mount of Olives

The Our Father in Hebrew, Church of the Pater Noster, the Mount of Olives


The Our Father in Aramaic on the left and Hebrew on the right, the languages that Jesus spoke, Church of the Pater Noster, the Mount of Olives

The Our Father in Aramaic on the left and Hebrew on the right, the languages that Jesus spoke, Church of the Pater Noster, the Mount of Olives


For more information and photos see:
http://www.biblewalks.com/Sites/PaterNoster.html
http://www.sacred-destinations.com/israel/jerusalem-church-of-pater-noster
http://www.seetheholyland.net/church-of-pater-noster/
http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Church_of_the_Pater_Noster
http://www.christusrex.org/www2/baram/B-pater.html

Shalom, Peace, Salaam!!!

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