Convent of Saint Mary Magdalene on the Holy Land

Convent of Saint Mary Magdalene in the Garden of Gethsemane

August 04, 2020

Church of Mary MagdaleneChurch of Mary Magdalene

The spiritual centre of the Convent is certainly the church of Mary Magdalene. Pilgrims that come to the Holy Land always visit this church, which is located in the Garden of Gethsemane, at the very foot of the Mount of Olives. A little higher up the slope, there is the Tomb of the Mother of God - another shrine dear to any Christian.

Grand Dukes Konstantin, Sergei and PavelGrand Dukes Konstantin, Sergei and Pavel

The church in honour of Saint Equal-to-the-Apostles Mary Magdalene was built after the sons of Emperor Alexander II Grand Dukes Sergei and Pavel, as well as their cousin Grand Duke Konstantin Konstantinovich, visited Jerusalem in May 1881. Their pilgrimage was timed to the anniversary of the death of Empress Maria Alexandrovna.

Maria AlexandrovnaMaria Alexandrovna

As you might know, the wife of Alexander II dreamed of visiting the Holy Land on her own, but she never got to do it because of her poor health. Despite this, during her lifetime the Empress always supported Russian institutions on the Palestinian land, generously donating funds and remaining their loyal patroness. In memory of Maria Alexandrovna, the sons of the emperor bought land to start the construction of a church in honour of her patron saint - Mary Magdalene. Archimandrite Antonin (Kapustin) gave this idea to the Grand Dukes. It was he who pointed out the best place for the construction of the church - the Mount of Olives and the Garden of Gethsemane.

Archimandrite Antonin (Kapustin)Archimandrite Antonin (Kapustin)

Construction of the church in honour of Saint Equal-to-the-Apostles Mary Magdalene in the Holy Land

Archimandrite Antonin, the head of the Russian spiritual mission in Jerusalem, actively took part in the construction of the church. He personally supervised the work. Construction started in 1885 and took about three years. The inscription made during the laying of the foundation can still be read. It says, “This sacred church in the name of Saint Equal-to-the-Apostles Mary Magdalene, was founded by the will of the most pious Sovereign Emperor Alexander Alexandrovich and His brothers, the Grand Dukes Vladimir, Alexei, Sergei and Pavel, in memory of their deceased mother, the most pious Empress Maria Alexandrovna.”
It is also worth mentioning that the construction project was created by the famous architect David Grimm.

Construction_of_the_Church_of_Mary_MagdaleneConstruction of the Church of Mary Magdalene

The church was consecrated in 1888. On this occasion, Grand Duke Sergei, the Chairman of the Imperial Palestinian Society, came to the Holy Land together with his wife, Grand Duchess Elisabeth Feodorovna and his brother Grand Duke Pavel. Elisabeth Feodorovna felt special grace in Jerusalem and wished to be buried in the Holy Land. As we know, her desire later came true.

Now we hold our breath, look with admiration at five golden cupolas of the Mary Magdalene church and realise that it really is one of the most beautiful and majestic churches of the Holy Land.

Relics of the ConventRelics of the Convent

Relics of the Convent

One of the main relics of the Convent is the image of Saint Mary Magdalene, inside of which a particle of her holy relics is sealed.

The wonderworking Icon of the Mother of God called "Hodegetria", which became famous in 1554 is also there. According to the tradition of the Church, Metropolitan of the Lebanese Mountains Elijah was presented with this amazing icon. However, after Saint Catherine and Saint Barbara appeared before him, he gifted the icon to the Convent of Saint Mary Magdalene.

Convent of Saint Mary MagdaleneConvent of Saint Mary Magdalene

Of course, many pilgrims know that the incorrupt relics of Holy New Martyrs Elizabeth and Nun Barbara are located there as well. They rest in white marble reliquaries on both sides of the altar.

At the moment, the Convent of Saint Mary Magdalene is administered by the ROCOR.

Many Christians, who visit the Convent for consolation and intercession of the saints, find spiritual peace. That is why there is nothing surprising in the fact that every time you visit this wonderful Convent, you will be able to see an endless stream of pilgrims, which is unlikely to ever stop.

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2 months ago
Dear Sisters,
Christ is in our midst! We love your website, thank you so much. In Colorado, USA, we are experiencing very severe wild fires, 5 of them right now, so if you could please pray for a lot of rain here to put out the fires, that would help so many people with respiratory problems. My husband has a lung infection and is very congested from the smoke. God is so good! Please be assured of our prayers for you. Thank you,
Denise Warholak Mcintyre