Church of the Visitation – Ein Karem

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Background: The Church of the Visitation commemorates Mary’s visit to her cousin Elizabeth (mother of John the Baptist), and where Mary recited the hymn, the Magnifcat, which is written on plaques in many languages outside. It is built on the supposed spot of Elizabeth and Zecharias’s summer house. The church is under the care of Franciscans and was finished in 1955. It is made up of a lower church (seen first in the photos), which houses the Stone of Hiding – where John the Baptist traditionally hid as a child from Herod’s Massacre of the Innocents, and an upper church dedicated to Mary. A mosaic mural depicting the visit is seen on the side of the church.

Impressions: The biggest difference between this church and the other churches is that this one is more modern, but retains the traditional architecture. What gives this away are the paintings, which are very well done. The paintings in the lower chapel tell the story of the visitation and massacre and even the history of the church and the Franciscans. In the upper church (where we caught the end of a mass), there are a couple of paintings depicting Franciscan monks and conquistadors and kings, something not so common to churches in Israel. Also there is a brilliant painting of Mary in the back above an organ.

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~ by jonathanmtsai on May 16, 2011.

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