VIGIL of the ASCENSION, Our Lady the Nea/New Church of the Virgin Mary or New Church of St Mary, Mother of God, built by the Emperor Justinian the Good, Jerusalem (530) and Memorials of the Saints – 25 May

Rogation Day


Our Lady the Nea/New Church of the Virgin Mary or New Church of St Mary, Mother of God, built by the Emperor Justinian the Good, Jerusalem (530) – 25 May:

The Abbot Orsini wrote: “Our Lady the Nea or New, at Jerusalem, built by the Emperor Justinian, at Jerusalem, in the year 530.

The Emperor Justinian the Good, is justifiably famous for many achievements and among them his construction of the magnificent Church of the Holy Wisdom, the Hagia Sophia, which is now a mosque in Istanbul. There was once another Church, though, dedicated to the Blessed Virgin, that must have been just as splendid and an architecture wonder, as is, the Hagia Sophia but this magnificent structure was destroyed by an earthquake.

Recent archeological excavations have uncovered the foundations of the Church, but there were also one of Justinian’s court historians, a man named Procopius of Caesarea, who wrote in great detail about the construction of the Nea Church of Our Lady the New, Mother of God:

These things the Emperor Justinian accomplished by human strength and skill but he was also assisted by his pious faith, which rewarded him with the honour he received and aided him in this cherished plan. The Church required throughout, columns whose appearance would not fall short of the beauty of the building and of such a size, that they could resist the weight of the load which would rest upon them. However, the site itself, being very far from the sea, inland and walled about on all sides by hills, that were quite steep, made it impossible for those who were preparing the foundations to bring columns from outside.

But when the impossibility of this task was causing the Emperor to become impatient, God revealed a natural supply of stone, perfectly suited to this purpose, in the nearby hills, one which had either lain therein concealment previously, or was created at that moment. Either explanation is credible to those who trace the cause of it to God, for while we, in estimating all things by the scale of man’s power, consider many things to be wholly impossible, for God nothing in the whole world can be difficult or impossible. So, the Church is supported on all sides by a number of huge columns from that place, which in colour resemble flames of fire, some standing below and some above and others in the stoas which surround the whole Church, except on the side facing the east.

Two of these columns stand before the door of the Church, exceptionally large and probably second to no column in the whole world. Here is added another colonnaded stoa, which is called the narthex, I suppose because it is not broad. Beyond this is a court with similar columns, standing on the four sides. From this there lead doors to the interior, which are so stately, that they proclaim to those walking outside what kind of sight they will meet within. Beyond there is a wonderful gateway and an arch, carried on two columns, which rises to a very great height. Then as one advances, there are two semi-circles which stand facing each other on one side of the road which leads to the Church, while facing each other on the other side, are two hospices, built by the Emperor Justinian. One of these is destined for the shelter of visiting strangers, while the other is an infirmary for poor persons suffering from diseases.

Ruins of the Columns

Archaeologists working in the region near Jerusalem, believe they have found this miraculous quarry. They have found a stone pillar that was cracked and, therefore, not used, in a field of similar stones. Although the field cannot be linked to the Nea, it does seem to prove, that the stone for the Church was available for the project.

Recent archeology confirms that the Church was very large for the time, at over 100 meters long and 52 meters wide and probably had 5 aisles. St Antoninus of Piacenza, who visited the Basilica in about 570, wrote: “with its great congregations of Monks and its guest houses for men and women. In catering for travellers, they have a vast number of tables and more than three thousand beds for the sick!”

. In 1977, archeologists, led by Professor Nachman Avigad, found a large Greek inscription above a Cross that confirmed that construction of the Church was attributed to the generosity of Emperor Justinian. At that time, a corner of the Church, outside the Old City walls, was incorporated into the Beth Shalom Garden. In the following years, investigative and preservation work continued and in 1988 the restored vaults were incorporated into the Garden of Redemption.

Emperor Justinian the Good

St Pope Gregory VII (1015-1085) Confessor, Bishop of Rome 22 April 1073 to his death in 1085, Monk, Priest, Reformer, Administrator, Adviser. Pope Gregory “was probably the most energetic and determined man ever to occupy the See of Peter and was driven by an almost mystically exalted vision of the awesome responsibility and dignity of the papal office” (Eamonn Duffy, Saints and Sinners: A History of the Popes). 

St Agustin Caloca
St Aldhelm of Sherborne
Bl Antonio Caixal
Bl Bartolomeo Magi di Amghiari
St Canio
St Cristobal Magallanes Jara
St Denis Ssebuggwawo
St Dionysius of Milan
St Dunchadh of Iona
St Egilhard of Cornelimünster
Bl Gerardo Mecatti
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St Injuriosus of Auvergne
St Iosephus Chang Song-Jib
Bl James Bertoni
Bl Juan of Granada
St Leo of Troyes
St Madeleine Sophie Barat RSCJ (1779-1865) Virgin, Religious, Foundress of the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
St Matthêô Nguyen Van Ðac Phuong
St Maximus of Evreux
Bl Nicholas Tsehelsky
St Pasicrates of Dorostorum
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St Pherô Ðoàn Van Vân
St Scholastica of Auvergne
St Senzio of Bieda
St Urban I, Pope
St Valentio of Dorostorum
St Victorinus of Acquiney
St Winebald of Saint Bertin
St Worad of Saint Bertin
St Zenobius of Florence



Passionate Catholic. Being a Catholic is a way of life - a love affair "Religion must be like the air we breathe..."- St John Bosco Prayer is what the world needs combined with the example of our lives which testify to the Light of Christ. This site, which is now using the Traditional Calendar, will mainly concentrate on Daily Prayers, Novenas and the Memorials and Feast Days of our friends in Heaven, the Saints who went before us and the great blessings the Church provides in our Catholic Monthly Devotions. This Site is placed under the Patronage of my many favourite Saints and especially, St Paul. "For the Saints are sent to us by God as so many sermons. We do not use them, it is they who move us and lead us, to where we had not expected to go.” Charles Cardinal Journet (1891-1975) This site adheres to the Catholic Church and all her teachings. PLEASE ADVISE ME OF ANY GLARING TYPOS etc - In June 2021 I lost 95% sight in my left eye and sometimes miss errors. Thank you and I pray all those who visit here will be abundantly blessed. Pax et bonum! 🙏

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