The Church of the Redeemer at Jerusalem
In the Christian Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem, a stone’s throw from the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, is the Church of the Redeemer. Built by Kaiser Wilhelm in the late 1800s, he personally dedicated the church in 1898, when he and his wife, Augusta Victoria, became the first western rulers to visit Jerusalem. The Lutheran church houses other Lutheran congregations, speaking four different languages (Arabic, German, English, and Danish), as well as the Offices of the Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land (ELCJHL), Bishop Sani Ibrahim Charlie Azar.
Sunday Morning Worship with the ELCJHL Jerusalem Congregation
At 9:00 am the Redeemer church bells ring with full, melodic tones heard throughout the Christian Quarter. There are each Sunday morning (except for special services in which both congregations are combined, such as Christmas) two simultaneous services; one presented in Arabic and the other in English. The German service starts at 10:30 am.
A History of the Redeemer Church and Property
The church building itself and the land on which it stands have a long and interesting history. The church is built on the site of the medieval church St. Mary la Latine, which fell into ruin, and then a second St. Mary’s church and a St. John’s church were built as part of a huge building complex which was called the Muristan, the Persian word for hospital. Nearby there is said to have been a hospice (hostel) for western pilgrims, near the place of Jesus’ death and resurrection.
Only as of the eleventh century is it possible to have a more exact history. People from Italy revitalized the Convent of St. Mary la Latine before 1070, and a hospital was established near the Church of St. John. When the Crusaders were the administrators of Jerusalem during the twelfth century, the religious brothers who served in the hospital developed into one of the three great orders of knights, the Order of the Knights of St. John. They cared for the pilgrims who visited Jerusalem, many of whom became ill and needed nursing. Thus the knights also became known as “hospitallers.” For a century, 1099-1187 the Muristan was the headquarters of the Knights of St. John, with churches and hospitals. It is reported that at times there were up to 2000 patients with hundreds of nursing brothers caring for them.
When the Turkish ruler, Saladin, conquered Jerusalem in 1187, the hospital continued as an Islamic institution, but by the sixteenth century the Muristan fell into ruins. The City of Jerusalem and its churches were all but forgotten by the west. In the beginning of the nineteenth century, however, pilgrims began coming once again to Jerusalem and by 1840 European nations and churches wanted to be represented in Jerusalem.