Church of the Visitation
Amazing Christian Holy Land tours include stops at the Church of the Visitation in Jerusalem's picturesque Ein Karem neighborhood. The church here, built by St. Helene, commemorates the visit by Virgin Mary to Elizabeth, mother of John the Baptist. This is where Mary recited the song of praise known as the Magnificat.
The church is currently overseen by the Franciscan order, which has restored the ancient structure. Visitors will note the beautiful mosaics from the original church which decorate the floors of the church. Inside the structure is an ancient water cistern where Zechariah and Elizabeth drank – and the stone next to it is where they hid from Herod's soldiers. The upper hall of the church is dedicated to Mary, with verses from the Magnificat written in 42 different languages and wall paintings in honor of Mary.
The famous Italian architect of churches, Antonio Barluzzi, designed this church. Contemporary pilgrims will note that Barluzzi included Italianate frescoes depicting the Visitation, Zechariah next to the Second Temple's altar, and Elizabeth hiding her son John the Baptist. The lower hall is decorated with large frescoes of women of the Bible known for their "hymns and canticles."
Walk down the hill from the church to the Spring of the Virgin, which gave the village of Ein Karem its name ("spring of the vineyard"). The spot is marked by a mosque, and the spring is used for crop irrigation. At the end of your tour, take a stroll around the peaceful village, today part of the Jerusalem municipality. Artists' galleries and high-quality restaurants line the narrow alleyways, with the Jerusalem hills as a scenic backdrop. Also worth a visit in Ein Karem are the Church of St. John the Baptist, the monastery of Sisters of Our Lady of Zion and the "Moscovia" Monastery.