An Italian architect known as the “Architect of the Holy Land,” Antonio Barluzzi (1884-1960) created pilgrimage churches and restored many of them as well. He was commissioned as a layman by the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land.

It is interesting to note that his maternal grandfather was, for a period of time, the architect responsible for the maintenance of St. Peter’s Basilica. His first proposal submitted to the head of the Franciscan custody was plans for a Basilica in Mount Tabor and the rest, as they say, is history. Barluzzi was born and died in Italy.

The Church of All Nations (Church of Agony) in East Jerusalem

A Roman Catholic church in the Mount of Olives, it is next to the Garden of Gethsemane and enshrines a section of bedrock where Jesus is said to have prayed before his arrest. The current basilica lies on the ruins of two earlier churches—a 4th Century Byzantine cathedral and a 12th Century Crusader chapel. Work on the current edifice started in 1920 and it was consecrated in 1924.

The coat of arms of the 12 countries that contributed majorly to this church are incorporated into its design. Built with two types of stone—its interiors from the quarries of Lifta and its exterior are rose-colored stones from Bethlehem—the facade of the church is supported by a row of columns and atop each column are the statues of the four evangelists: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

To best appreciate the exterior of this church, try to view it from across the street.

The Church of the Transfiguration in Mount Tabor

By Christian tradition, this is the site of the Transfiguration of Jesus and was built from 1919-1924 upon the ruins of an old Byzantine and a Crusader church. This area is also the site of two Christian monasteries—Greek Orthodox and Roman Catholic. Above its altar is a mosaic depicting the Transfiguration which is celebrated here every Aug. 6.

The view going up to Mt. Tabor is so breathtaking that I wish we had time to stop midway.

The Church of the Flagellation in Old Jerusalem

Located in the Muslim Quarter of the Old City and part of a Franciscan monastery that includes the Church of the Condemnation and Imposition of the Cross (not by Barluzzi), this compound is traditionally the second stop of the Via Dolorosa. There has been evidence recently, however, that the flagellation may have happened on the opposite side of the city.

Built over the ruins of a Crusader church, the current one was completed between 1928-1929 as a complete reconstruction.

The Church of the Beatitudes in Galilee

A Roman Catholic Church located on the Mount of Beatitudes by the Sea of Galilee on a small hill believed to be where Jesus delivered his Sermon on the Mount. This modern church was built between 1936-1938 near the site of Byzantine ruins in Neo Byzantine style. Its floor plan is octagonal, eight sides representing the Eight Beatitudes. It also has a beautiful garden with many corners perfect for meditation and silent prayers.