The Church of the Visitation located in Ein Kerem, also known as Ein Karem, a suburb of Jerusalem, pays tribute to the visit paid by Mary, Mother of Jesus to Elizabeth, Mother of John. The Gospels say that it is at this moment that Mary sang the song of praise called The Magnificat.
One of many mosaics of the "Magnificat" in many languages
English Text of the Magnificat
My soul magnifies the Lord
And my spirit rejoices in God my Savior;
Because He has regarded the lowliness of His handmaid;
For behold, henceforth all generations shall call me blessed;
Because He who is mighty has done great things for me,
and holy is His name;
And His mercy is from generation to generation
on those who fear Him.
He has shown might with His arm,
He has scattered the proud in the conceit of their heart.
He has put down the mighty from their thrones,
and has exalted the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich He has sent away empty.
He has given help to Israel, his servant, mindful of His mercy
Even as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his posterity forever.
Painting of Elizabeth and Mary as they met in Ein Karem
Tradition tells us this story
According to Christian Tradition, the Village of Ein Kerem was the house of Zacharias and Elizabeth or Elisheva in Hebrew. Her cousin Mary came to visit while both women were pregnant.
As Mary arrived, the baby leaped with joy in Elizabeth’s womb as she was filled with the Holy Spirit. Mary stayed with here until John was born.
John is a very important figure in Christianity and called “The Frontrunner” since he is the one who later baptized Jesus.
Church of the Visitation in Ein Karem
The Church of the Visitation during different times
The church was built under the auspices of Empress Helena of Constantinople, Constantine I’s Mother, because she identified the site as the home of Zacharias, site of Mary’s visit.
Many years later the Crusaders erected a new church on the site of the ancient ruins. When the Crusaders left the Holy Land, the church fell under Muslim hands it gradually deteriorated.
The second floor of the Church was dedicated to Mary and decorated with beautiful paintings honoring her. The walls are covered with tablets with engravings of “The Magnificat” in almost fifty languages.
The facade of the Church of the Visitation
A Franciscan Church
The Church was purchased in 1679 by the Franciscan Order. They only began its reconstruction in 1862 and the upper level in 1938 by Italian architect Antonio Barluzzi who finished it in 1955.
In the interior of the Church the visitor will find many Italian frescoes depicting Elizabeth hiding her son John the Baptist. There are also mosaics and remaining s of the old original church on display.
The church is currently held in trust by the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land.
If you are visiting the Holy Land with a group, I am sure your Israeli Licensed Guide will take you there. If you are on your own, just go to Ein Kerem, where Hospital Hadassah is located and you’ll find the church.
Painting in the Church of the Visitation in Jerusalem
Following the Revised Standard Version of the Scriptures
39 - In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a city of Judah,
40- And she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth.
41- And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit
42- And she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!
43- And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
44- For behold, when the voice of your greeting came to my ears, the babe in my womb leaped for joy.
45- And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”
46- And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord,
47- And my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48- For he has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden. For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed;
49- For he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name.
50- And his mercy is on those who fear him from generation to generation.
51- He has shown strength with his arm, he has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts,
52- He has put down the mighty from their thrones, and exalted those of low degree;
53- He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent empty away.
54- He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy,
55- As he spoke to our Fathers, to Abraham and to his posterity forever.”
56- And Mary remained with her about three months, and returned to her home.
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2015 - 2018