The Church of Visitation is located in Jerusalem’s tranquil neighborhood of Ein Karem. Before it was incorporated into the Jerusalem municipality, Ein Karem was an ancient village believed to be the town where John the Baptist was born.
According to Luke, this is the place where Mary visited Elizabeth, John the Baptist’s mother. It is also believed that Mary recited the Magnificent; her song of praise. This hymn is the most famous psalm attributed to Mary.
The original church was mostly destroyed during one of conquests of Jerusalem, shortly after the Crusader Era. In 1679, the Franciscans purchased the building. However they did not begin reconstruction of the church until 1862. In 1938, construction began on the upper level. In 1955, the renovations were finally completed by Italian architect Antonio Barluzzi; he is also credited with designing the Church of the Transfiguration on Mount Tabor, the the Church of All Nations in Jerusalem and many others.
The interior of the church contains frescoes portraying the Visitation. The ancient church remains and mosaic floors have been preserved. An ancient cistern can be seen in the church. The upper portion of the church is decorated with paintings honoring Mary. Verses from the Magnificent are inscribed into ceramic blocks in forty-two different languages.
To this day, the church remains a part of the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land.