Close to the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem, on the top of the Mount of Olives, there stands a relatively young Catholic Church, built in the mid-50s by the Italian architect Antonio Barluzzi. It’s the Dominus Flevit church, Latin for “the Lord wept.”
According to tradition and the Gospel of Luke (Luke 19:41-44), here’s where Jesus, while riding toward Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, was overwhelmed by the beauty of the Temple and wept as he predicted its imminent destruction:
“As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes. The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.”
Jesus’ words were fulfilled in the year 70 of the first century, at the hands of the Romans in the First Jewish-Roman war. The site of Jesus’ weeping over Jerusalem was not marked until the Crusader era, when eventually a first small chapel was built. After the Muslim capture of Jerusalem in 1187, the church — like many Christian sites — was abandoned and fell into ruin. During the later Ottoman rule, a mosque may have been built on the spot, but it too was eventually abandoned.
In the mid-19th century, the Latin Patriarchate was established in Jerusalem. The Franciscans — who have charge, or custody, of Christian sites in the Holy Land — began purchasing and refurbishing traditional pilgrimage sites and churches. They attempted to purchase the ruins where Jesus traditionally wept, but were unable to do so, Instead, in the late 1800s they bought a small plot of land in the vicinity. Almost 60 years later, the Dominus Flevit church was finally built. It is shaped in the form of a teardrop.
Click on the video below if you want to know more about this beautiful chapel and its fascinating history.