brown bar

mapThe Church of the Holy Sepulchre

Jeusalem Old City

The map was copied from Wikitravel.org.

brown bar

Jerusalem's Old city is divided into four districts, or "quarters" as they are known: Armenian, Christian, Jewish, and Muslim. Many of the best known Christian institutions and churches are found in the Muslim Quarter, because this area was governed by the Crusaders in the 12th century when many of these structures were built.

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre, containing the sites of Christ's crucifixion, burial and resurrection, is the holiest place in Christendom. It also contains the last five Stations of the Cross: Each station is marked with an altar, heavily ornamented. The first four are on the Hill of Calvary, inside the church. The fifth, the tomb, is on a lower level.

The earliest Christian church on the site was built in the mid-first century. This was leveled by Hadrian following the seond Jewish Revolt (see Josephus) and a temple to Aphrodite was erected on the site.

Queen Helena, mother of Emperor Constantine, mad a pilgrimage to the Holy Land in the early part of the 4th century. She was a very spiritual woman. She visited many sites and, when she prayed deeply, God told her where to build the shrines. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem are two of the sites she located through her prayer and meditation. Helena also found what she believed to be the True Cross in cave on the site of the present day Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

Emperor Constantine had another church constructed on the site, finished in 348. This church was destroyed in 614 by the Persians. It was rebuilt a few years later by the Greeks, and destroyed again in 1009 by the Fatimid Sultan Hakim. A smaller church was erected on the site in the 1040s by Byzantine Emperor Constantine Monomachus. This church was enlarged by the Crusaders between 1114 and 1170. Much of the structure we see today dates from this era. A fire in 1808 and an earthquake in 1927 caused extensive damage. The repairs undertaken then have not lasted well, and the rotunda in particular is in dire need of extensive conservation and repair.

Today the church is shared by six Christian communities (in alphabetical order): Armenian Orthodox, Copts, Ethiopians, Greek Orthodox, Roman Catholics, and Syrian Orthodox. Their activities are governed by a 1757 ruling on the status quo which states which sect can do what and where and at what time and for how long. The sects trust each other so little and are so incapable of cooperating, that a Muslim family holds the keys to the church. Under the circumstances, it is difficult to reach a consensus about repairs, however necessary they may be. It took 30 years of argument to reach a works agreement (1958) to address the restoration required after the 1927 earthquake. Even then, work was not completed until 1988. Even tiny repairs cause unbelievable strife because the group carrying them out can then lay claim to that section of the complex. Large repairs demand a degree of cooperation which is difficult to achieve.

Given the current state of decay, we always wondered what would happen if the church should collape on us. If the church of the Holy Sepulchre falls on someone causing death, will that person go to Paradise?

Explanations of some of the sections of the church:

brown bar

Some views of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

To view any photo at full size, click on the photo with the left mouse button.
entrance

The entrance to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

chapel of the Franks

The Chaple of the Franks, beside the entrance to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

stone of unction

The Stone of Unction, seen from the Hill of Calvary. One can see the Stone of the Three Women in the distance.

stone of unction

The Stone of Unction.

stone of three women

The Stone of the Three Women.

rotunda dome

The dome of the Rotunda. Walk past the Stone of the Three Women to reach the Rotunda.

Christ's Tomb

The Tomb of Christ, from the balcony of the Rotunda.

Christ's Tomb

The Tomb of Christ.

tomb of Christ

Looking down on the Tomb of Christ from the balcony.

entrance to the Tomb

Entrance to the Chapel of the Angel and the Tomb of Christ.

rock of the angel

In the Chapel of the Angel, the rock on which the Angel sat to tell of Christ's resurrection (Matthew 28:1).

Chaple of the Angel

Entrance to the sepulchral chamber in the Chapel of the Angel.

burial chamber

The place where the Body of Christ lay before resurrection.

burial chamber

The place where the Body of Christ lay before resurrection.

Muslims praying

Two Muslim women praying at the Chapel of the Copts, behind the Holy Sepulchre.

Dome of the Katholikon

The Dome of the Katholikon.

the Katholikon

The Katholikon, the Greek Orthodox sanctuary.

proession in St Helena's Chapel

The Franciscan procession in the Chapel of St Helena.

St Helena

The Chapel of St Helena.

St Helena

The Chapel of St Helena.

St Helena

Side altar in the Chapel of St Helena.

Golgotha

Golgotha.

Golgotha

Golgotha.

Golgotha

Golgotha.

the rock of Golgotha

The rock of Golgotha, now protected by glass because pilgrims were chipping away bits to take home as souvenires.

Ethiopian monk

Ethiopian monk near the monastery on top of the Chapel of St Helena.

Dome of St Helena's Chapel

The Dome of St Helena's Chapel from the roof.

Ethiopian monk

Ethiopian monk near the monastery.

Ethiopian monastery on top of St Helena's Chapel

The Ethiopian Monastery.

Mosque of Omar

The Mosque of Omar, built to protect the Church of the Holy Sepulchre from being turned into a mosque.

brown bar

Click on the link to visit the other pages in the Jerusalem section:

brown bar
brown bar
Patti

This page was updated on 26 November 2007.

Contact me at: patti.primeau@sympatico.ca

This site was edited using Nvu and Style Master.

brown bar