Pater Noster Church

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Pater Noster Church

Location

 

1. The Church of Pater Noster is located on the top of the Mount of Olives just below the Chapel of the Ascension.

 

2. It is part of a Carmelite Monastery, also known as the Sanctuary of the Eleona (Greek for olive grove).

3. It is the believed place where Christ taught about the Lord's Prayer, gave the Olivet Discourse as found in Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21, and ascended back to heaven as found in Acts 1:9-11.

 

Historical Background

 

1. Pater Noster means “Our Father” in Latin.

2. Soon after Christ ascended back to heaven early Christians venerated this site because of its significance. 

 

3. Writing in around 318 AD, Eusebius, Bishop of Caesarea, who was an eyewitness to this site writes: "According to the common and received account, the feet of our Lord and Savior, himself the Word of God, truly understood . . . upon the Mount of Olives at the cave that is shown there. On the ridge of the Mount of Olives he prayed and handed on to his disciples the mysteries of the end, and after this, he made his ascension into heaven as Luke teaches in the Acts of the Apostles."

4. In around 330 AD a church was commissioned and built by Constantine on the site marked by Helena, the mother of Constantine. It was one of the four churches (Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Church of the Nativity, Church of the Annunciation, and Church of Pater Noster) constructed by Constantine, the first Christian Roman emperor. It was built at the site of the Ascension of Christ back to heaven and was called the Basilica of Eleona.

The church was built in three levels on the slopes of the Mount of Olives, with stairs connecting each level. The church was built on the highest level and was in the shape of a long rectangular hall with two rows of columns. Its apse was on the east side, facing the rising sun. The remains of the apse can still be seen today by going down some stairs into the grotto. The center level was an atrium, a colonnaded forecourt, and the lowest level was on the west side which consisted of a portico (porch) erected on six columns. Only its foundations were found during the excavations in the 19th century, including the crypt (cave) which was located under the eastern edge of the church.

 

5. The Byzantine church was built over a cave, where according to tradition, was the place Jesus taught his disciples how to pray.

 

6. The Persians destroyed the church in 614 AD, but the memory of Jesus’ teaching continued to be associated with it. Some of the Byzantine church remains can be seen in the backyard outside of the present courtyard.

 

7. When the Crusaders arrived, the site was associated specifically with the Lord's Prayer, so the Crusaders rebuilt part of the church in 1099.

 

8. In 1872, a Carmelite convent was built that preserved and restored the foundations of the 4th Century Byzantine church.

 

9. In 1874 the present church was built on the north side of the ruined church. A large monastery was also built next to the church and grotto. 

 

10. A new church was partially built in 1915 but is still unfinished. The half-restored church has the same dimensions as the original, and the garden outside the three doors outlines the open-aired area. Work on the church was abandoned in 1927 when funds ran out, leaving the base and walls uncovered.

11. The current church is overseen by the Carmelite Cloistered Sisters.

 

12. It is very likely that Jesus prayed in this vicinity because He had just visited Mary and Martha’s house in Bethany, a short distance away.

 

13. Jesus also regularly prayed on mountain tops, so the top of the Mount of Olives would be a natural fit.

 

Places of Interest

 

1. The church has 140 large ceramic plaques containing the Lord’s Prayer in many languages.

 

2. The cave where it is believed Jesus taught about prayer is in an enclosed courtyard in front of the church and down a few stairs. The cave was partially collapsed when discovered in 1910.

 

3. To the left of the church's south door is an area paved with mosaics and identified as a baptistery.

 

4. The backyard of the church is where the original Byzantine church was located.

5. The apse of the Byzantine Church can be seen today.

 

6. Bethany, the town of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus.

 

7. Top of the Mount of Olives

 

8. Chapel of the Ascension

 

9. Old City Jerusalem

 

The Lord’s Prayer in the Bible

 

In the New Testament, the Lord’s Prayer is mentioned two times. The first and longer form is found in Matthew 6 and is part of the Sermon on the Mount. The shorter form is in Luke 11 and is a response given by Jesus to a request by one of his disciples to teach them to pray as John taught his disciples.

 

1. Jesus was asked to teach His disciples how to pray.
Luke 11:1–4: It happened that while Jesus was praying in a certain place, after He had finished, one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray just as John also taught his disciples.” 2 And 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 also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.”

 

2. Christ gave examples of how we should pray.
Luke 11:5–13: Then He said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend, and goes to him at midnight and says to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves; 6 for a friend of mine has come to me from a journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; 7 and from inside he answers and says, ‘Do not bother me; the door has already been shut and my children and I are in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.’ 8 I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will get up and give him as much as he needs. 9 So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it will be opened. 11 Now suppose one of you fathers is asked by his son for a fish; he will not give him a snake instead of a fish, will he? 12 Or if he is asked for an egg, he will not give him a scorpion, will he? 13 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?”

 

3. Jesus also taught about how to pray in the Sermon on the Mount.
Matthew 6:5–15: And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 6 But when 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. And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. 9 Pray then like this: 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 lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. 14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, 15 but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

 

Olivet Discourse in the Bible
The Olivet Discourse as found in Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21 is believed to have taken place here. In these passages, Jesus talked about the events leading up to His second coming and what we should expect.

Matthew 24:1-31

Jesus left the temple area and was going on His way [a]when His disciples came up to point out the temple buildings to Him. 2 But He responded and said to them, “Do you not see all these things? Truly I say to you, not one stone here will be left upon another, which will not be torn down.” 3 And as He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the [b]end of the age?” 4 And Jesus answered and said to them, “See to it that no one misleads you. 5 For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will mislead many people. 6 And you will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end. 7 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8 But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pains. 9 “Then they will hand you over to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name. 10 And at that time many will fall away, and they will [g]betray one another and hate one another. 11 And many false prophets will rise up and mislead many people. 12 And because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will become cold. 13 But the one who endures to the end is the one who will be saved. 14 This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come. 

Difficult Times Will Come

15 “Therefore when you see the abomination of desolation which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place—let the reader understand— 16 then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains. 17 Whoever is on the [n]housetop must not go down to get things out of his house. 18 And whoever is in the field must not turn back to get his cloak. 19 But woe to those women who are pregnant, and to those who are nursing babies in those days! 20 Moreover, pray that when you flee, it will not be in the winter, or on a Sabbath. 21 For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will again. 22 And if those days had not been cut short, no [q]life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short. 23 Then if anyone says to you, ‘Behold, here is the Christ,’ or ‘He is over here,’ do not believe him. 24 For false christs and false prophets will arise and will provide great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect. 25 Behold, I have told you in advance. 26 So if they say to you, ‘Behold, He is in the wilderness,’ do not go out; or, ‘Behold, He is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe them. 27 For just as the lightning comes from the east and flashes as far as the west, so will the coming of the Son of Man be. 28 Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.

 

Christ's Glorious Return
29 “But immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 30 And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory. 31 And He will send forth His angels with a great trumpet blast, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.

Christ's Ascension to Heaven

Acts 1:9-11

And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were watching, and a cloud took Him up, out of their sight. 10 And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was going, then behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them, 11 and they said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.”

Faith Lesson from the Lord’s Prayer

 

1. Jesus prayed regularly and was in constant communion with the Father. Do we do the same?

 

2. We should not pray repetitious phrases but should pray in a sincere and heartfelt manner.

 

3. The Lord’s Prayer is not an exact phrase we must pray but gives us principles of how to pray.

 

4. Jesus taught that we should be persistent in prayer.

 

5. Jesus taught that He is a good loving Father who delights in answering prayer when it is best for us and His sovereign will. 

 

6. Jesus taught that if we expect God to forgive us, we should forgive others as well. Do we have people in our lives we need to forgive?

 

7. Do we realize Christ's return will be a real event and are we ready for His return?

 

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