CHURCH OF THE HOLY SEPULCHRE

CHURCH OF THE HOLY SEPULCHRE


Entrance from a courtyard to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher

The Church of the Holy Sepulcher lies on the traditional site of Christ's crucifixion, burial and resurrection---Golgotha or Cavalry. All the historical and archaeological evidence seems to indicate it is in the right place. In Jesus’s time executions were carried out on a hill outside the city walls. The site was on a hill outside the walls in Jesus’s time. Furthermore, the niche style grave is consistent with that of Jesus’s time and there are written statements to its authenticity that date back to the A.D. 2nd century. Scenes from the life of Christ—including his infancy, triumphal entry into Jerusalem, and Last Supper—adorn a small Coptic Orthodox chapel in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

A room in the south-east corner of the church has been placed on top of Golgotha, or Calvary, where Christ according to tradition Christ was crucified. The gray rock mass of Golgotha is protected by a plexiglass case. Here, a narrow half circle of stairs leads to a chapel---with a Greek Orthodox side and a Roman Catholic side “placed over the spot where Christ was nailed to the cross.

Harriet Sherwood wrote in The Guardian: “The Church of the Holy Sepulchre, in the heart of the Christian quarter of the walled Old City, covers the assumed site of Jesus’s crucifixion, burial and resurrection. It is a huge attraction for pilgrims and tourists from all over the world, many weeping and clutching precious mementos or photographs of loved ones and forming long queues for the shrine. The shrine has been rebuilt four times in its history, most recently in 1810 after a fire.The structure had been held in place for almost 70 years by iron girders erected on the instructions of a British governor who ruled Palestine in the Mandate era. They have now been removed.” [Source: Harriet Sherwood, The Guardian, March 21, 2017]

Kristin Romey wrote in National Geographic: “The most venerated site in the Christian world, the tomb today consists of a limestone shelf or burial bed that was hewn from the wall of a cave. Since at least 1555, and most likely centuries earlier, the burial bed has been covered in marble cladding, allegedly to prevent eager pilgrims from removing bits of the original rock as souvenirs. A window cut into the burial chamber of Jesus’s tomb for pilgrims to see what is believed to be the original stone wall of the burial cave. the Stone of Unction, which commemorates the anointing of Jesus’ body for burial.” [Source: Kristin Romey, National Geographic, October 31, 2016]

Websites and Resources: Christianity Britannica on Christianity britannica.com//Christianity ; History of Christianity history-world.org/jesus_christ ; BBC on Christianity bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/christianity ;Wikipedia article on Christianity Wikipedia ; Religious Tolerance religioustolerance.org/christ.htm ; Christian Answers christiananswers.net ; Christian Classics Ethereal Library www.ccel.org ; Early Christianity: Elaine Pagels website elaine-pagels.com ; Sacred Texts website sacred-texts.com ; Gnostic Society Library gnosis.org ; PBS Frontline From Jesus to Christ, The First Christians pbs.org ; Guide to Early Church Documents iclnet.org; Early Christian Writing earlychristianwritings.com ; Internet Ancient History Sourcebook: Christian Origins sourcebooks.fordham.edu ; Early Christian Art oneonta.edu/farberas/arth/arth212/Early_Christian_art ; Early Christian Images jesuswalk.com/christian-symbols ; Early Christian and Byzantine Images belmont.edu/honors/byzart2001/byzindex ; Jesus and the Historical Jesus ; Britannica on Jesus britannica.com Jesus-Christ ; Historical Jesus Theories earlychristianwritings.com ; Wikipedia article on Historical Jesus Wikipedia ; Jesus Seminar Forum virtualreligion.net ; Life and Ministry of Jesus Christ bible.org ; Jesus Central jesuscentral.com ; Catholic Encyclopedia: Jesus Christ newadvent.org

Tomb of Jesus Christ


Tomb of Jesus inside the Church of the Holy Sepulcher

At the center of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher is Christ’s marble tomb. Reminiscent of an outdoor mausoleum, it can accommodate a half dozen or so people inside it. Visitors enter and exit a few at a time through a small opening that requires them to hunch over. Inside most people pray for a few moments and then leave. Near the entrance to the church is the Stone of Unction, where Christ’s body was cleaned, anointed and dressed before it was buried. It is often surrounded by weeping women dressed in black, bowing and kissing and rubbing oil into the stone. Some splash the stone with rose water and collect as much water as they can with sponges, squeezing the water into bottles to bring back home.

Kristin Romey wrote in National Geographic: “Standing shoulder to shoulder with holiday pilgrims waiting to enter the tiny shrine, I recall the nights spent inside the empty church with the conservation team, coming upon darkened nooks etched with centuries of graffiti and burials of crusader kings. I marvel at the many archaeological discoveries made in Jerusalem and elsewhere over the years that lend credibility to the Scriptures and traditions surrounding the death of Jesus, including an ornate ossuary that may contain the bones of Caiaphas, an inscription attesting to the rule of Pontius Pilate, and a heel bone driven through with an iron crucifixion nail, found in the Jerusalem burial of a Jewish man named Yehohanan. [Source: Kristin Romey, National Geographic, November 28, 2017 ^|^]

“I’m also struck by the many lines of evidence that converge on this ancient church. Just yards from the tomb of Christ are other rock-hewn tombs of the period, affirming that this church, destroyed and rebuilt twice, was indeed constructed over a Jewish burial ground. I recall being alone inside the tomb after its marble cladding was briefly removed, overwhelmed that I was looking at one of the world’s most important monuments—a simple limestone shelf that people have revered for millennia, a sight that hadn’t been seen for possibly a thousand years. I was overwhelmed by all the questions of history I hoped this brief and spectacular moment of exposure would eventually answer. ^|^

“Today, on my Easter visit, I find myself inside the tomb again, squeezed alongside three kerchiefed Russian women. The marble is back in place, protecting the burial bed from their kisses and all the rosaries and prayer cards rubbed endlessly on its time-polished surface. The youngest woman whispers entreaties for Jesus to heal her son Yevgeni, who has leukaemia. ^|^

“A priest standing outside the entrance loudly reminds us that our time is up, that other pilgrims are waiting. Reluctantly, the women stand up and file out, and I follow. At this moment I realise that to sincere believers, the scholars’ quest for the historical, non-supernatural Jesus is of little consequence. That quest will be endless, full of shifting theories, unanswerable questions, irreconcilable facts. But for true believers, their faith in the life, death, and Resurrection of the Son of God will be evidence enough. ^|^

Is the Church of the Holy Sepulchre Really the Tomb of Christ?


Kristin Romey wrote in National Geographic, “While it is archaeologically impossible to say that the tomb recently uncovered in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is the burial site of an individual Jew known as Jesus of Nazareth, there is indirect evidence to suggest that the identification of the site by representatives of the Roman emperor Constantine some 300 years later may be a reasonable one. [Source: Kristin Romey, National Geographic, October 31, 2016 ^^^]

“The earliest accounts of Jesus' burial come from the Canonical Gospels, the first four books of the New Testament, which are believed to have been composed decades after Christ's crucifixion around A.D. 30. While there are variations in the details, the accounts consistently describe how Christ was buried in a rock-cut tomb belonging to Joseph of Arimathea, a wealthy Jewish follower of Jesus. ^^^

“Archaeologists have identified more than a thousand such rock-cut tombs in the area around Jerusalem, says archaeologist and National Geographic grantee Jodi Magness. Each one of these family tombs consisted of one or more burial chambers with long niches cut into the sides of the rock to accommodate individual bodies. "All of this is perfectly consistent with what we know about how wealthy Jews disposed of their dead in the time of Jesus," says Magness. "This does not, of course, prove that the event was historical. But what it does suggest is that whatever the sources were for the gospel accounts, they were familiar with this tradition and these burial customs." ^^^

“The presence of other tombs of the period is important archaeological evidence, according to Magness. "What they show is that in fact this area was a Jewish cemetery outside the walls of Jerusalem in the time of Jesus." According to Dan Bahat, former city archaeologist of Jerusalem, "We may not be absolutely certain that the site of the Holy Sepulchre Church is the site of Jesus' burial, but we certainly have no other site that can lay a claim nearly as weighty, and we really have no reason to reject the authenticity of the site.” ^^^

Early History of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre

The site was discovered underneath a Temple of Aphrodite by Saint Helena, the mother of Byzantine Emperor Constantine, along with---tradition says---the True Cross, the Crown of Thorns and the lance used by a Roman Soldier to pierce Christ on his way to Calvary. Considering it was her first pilgrimage to the Holy Land, she didn't make out so bad. Upon her return, Constantine, the man who christianized Rome, ordered a building to "surpass the most magnificent monuments any city possesses." Ten years later in A.D. 335 the first Church of the Holy Sepulcher was finished.


Constantine and Helena and the True Cross

The site of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is venerated by most Christians as Golgotha, (the Hill of Calvary). The early Christian community of Jerusalem appears to have held liturgical celebrations at Christ's tomb from the time of the resurrection until the city was taken by the Romans in 66 AD. Less than a century later, in 135 AD, Emperor Hadrian filled in the quarry to provide a level foundation for a pagan temple. The site remained buried beneath the pagan temple until Emperor Constantin the Great converted to Christianity in 312 AD. He had the pagan temple to Venus torn down and set the plan to erect the monumental domed Church of the Holy Sepulchre. It soon to become Jerusalem's most sacred place of Christian pilgrimage and has been an important pilgrimage destination since at least the fourth century. [Source: Associated Press, November 10, 2008]

Kristin Romey wrote in National Geographic, “Jewish tradition forbade burial within the walls of a city, and the Gospels specify that Jesus was buried outside of Jerusalem, near the site of his crucifixion on Golgotha ("the place of skulls"). A few years after the burial is said to have occurred, the walls of Jerusalem were expanded, putting Golgotha and the nearby tomb within the city. When Constantine's representatives arrived in Jerusalem around A.D. 325 to locate the tomb, they were allegedly pointed to a temple built by the Roman emperor Hadrian some 200 years earlier. Historical sources suggest that Hadrian had the temple built over the tomb to assert the dominance of Roman state religion at the site venerated by Christians. [Source: Kristin Romey, National Geographic, October 31, 2016 ^^^]

“According to Eusebius, Bishop of Caesarea, the Roman temple was razed and excavations beneath it revealed a rock-cut tomb. The top of the cave was sheared off to expose the interior, and a church was built around it to enclose the tomb. The church was completely destroyed by the Fatimids in 1009 and rebuilt in the mid-11th century. Excavations inside of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre during the 20th century revealed remains of what is believed to be Hadrian's temple and walls from Constantine's original church. Archaeologists also documented an ancient limestone quarry and at least half a dozen other rock-cut tombs, some of which can be seen today. ^^^

Throughout its 1650 year history the church has been destroyed and rebuilt many times and has been altered and subdivided countless times by the various Christian sects that lay claim to it. In 613 Constantine’s church was destroyed by Persians. It was rebuilt and razed again in 1009, this time by Saracen Muslims. The church was rebuilt again and greatly expanded by the Crusaders, who gave it its present Romanesque cross-like shape. Much of what you see today dates back to the Crusaders. Several Christian sects warily — sometimes hostilely — share the sanctuary, each presiding over their designated turf. Keys to the church are entrusted to a local Muslim family.

Elizabeth J. Himelfarb wrote in Archaeology magazine: “Since the fifth century, various Christian sects have shared space in the church, but not without contention. Territorial holdings shifted many times when high taxes forced different groups to sell their holdings to one another. In-fighting came to a head in 1852, when the Ottomans, then in control of Jerusalem, issued what is known as the Status Quo agreement. The agreement defined the territorial rights of the competing communities--Greek-Orthodox, Armenian, Latin, Syrian-Jacobite, Coptic, and Ethiopian--within the edifice and set down the order of mass, paths of procession, and timetable of liturgies. Provisions of the agreement continue to govern daily life at the church. Vying for territory remains an issue here--holdings are far from equal.”

Holy Sepulcher Pilgrimage by Russian Abbot Daniel in 1106


Altar of the Crucifixion at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher

C. W. Wilson wrote: “Russian pilgrimages to the Holy Land date from the conversion of the Russians to Christianity towards the close of the tenth century. As early as 1022 A.D. allusion is made, in the Life of St. Theodosius of Kiev, to the presence of Russian pilgrims in Palestine; but the first whose name is known is St. Varlaam, Abbot of the Laura of Kiev, who visited Jerusalem in 1062 A.D. The earliest extant record of a Russian pilgrimage to the Holy Land is that of Daniel, the Abbot, or Prior {XXXX}, of a Russian monastery, of whom nothing certain is known. It may be inferred from Daniel's reference to the river Snov, as a stream that possessed several of the characteristics of the Jordan, that he came from the province of Tchernigov, in Little Russia, through which the Snov runs; and he is supposed to have been the same Daniel who was Bishop of Suriev in 1115 A.D., and who died the 9th September, 1122 A.D. [Source: “The Pilgrimage of the Russian Abbot Daniel in the Holy Land” 1106-1107 A. D. By C. W. Wilson. London, 1888, Holy Fire]

“After witnessing the ceremony of the descent of the 'Holy Light,' in the Church of the Resurrection, on Easter Saturday, 1107 A.D., the Russian pilgrim commenced his homeward journey. He travelled by the Convent of the Cross; ‘Ain Kárim, the home of Zacharias and the birthplace of John the Baptist; and 'Amwás, which had been laid waste by the infidels, to Jaffa; and thence by Arsúf, Kaisaríyeh, Haifa, Tyre, and Sidon, to Beirút. Whether he embarked at Beirút or at Suédiah, the port of Antioch, is uncertain; but in either case he followed the coast pretty closely, and after having been robbed by pirates, off the Lycian coast, near Patara, eventually reached Constantinople in safety.

“According to his own account (p. 73) he described nothing that he did not see with his own eyes, and this is supported by the internal evidence of the narrative, for when he cannot visit a place, he frankly admits that he is dependent upon others for his information. Incidentally the Russian Abbot throws some curious light on the unsettled state of the country, and the dangers to which travellers were exposed, on the roads, in the earlier years of the Latin 'kingdom.' At Lydda, on the high road from Joppa to Jerusalem, pilgrims pass the night in great fear of raiding Saracens from Ascalon; brigands frequent the road from Jerusalem to Jericho; on the forest-clad hills near Solomon's Pools, Saracen bands from Ascalon lie in wait for those journeying from Bethlehem to Hebron; the mountains south-east of Bethlehem are so full of brigands that Daniel and his companions have to travel under the protection of a Saracen chief. No one can proceed from Jerusalem to the Sea of Galilee without an armed escort; the Saracens of Beisan attack travellers as they ford the streams; impious Saracens massacre Christians going from Mount Tabor to Nazareth; and Lebanon cannot be visited on account of the infidels. We learn, too, that panthers and wild asses still found a home in the Wilderness of Judæa; and that lions in large numbers frequented the jungle in the Jordan Valley; whilst the date-palm, which has since disappeared, flourished in the semi-tropical climate of Jericho and Beisan.”

Church of the Holy Sepulchre in the 12th Century


Tomb of Christ in 1887

C. W. Wilson wrote: “Daniel's description of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and of the buildings and 'Holy Places' connected with it, is of great interest, for he saw them before the Crusaders had carried out those changes which gave the church its present form. A few years previously, in l102, the church had been visited by Sæwulf, whose remarks on the buildings and sacred sites (p. 100) may be compared with those of Daniel. [Source: “The Pilgrimage of the Russian Abbot Daniel in the Holy Land” 1106-1107 A. D. By C. W. Wilson. London, 1888, Holy Fire]

“At the commencement of the twelfth century the Shrine or Chapel of the Holy Sepulchre was protected by a wall of enclosure, and in close contact with this wall there was an arcade having twelve columns and twelve arches; in three of the intercolumnar spaces, at the east end, the masonry of the wall seems to have been partially replaced by grilles, or screens of open ironwork, in each of which there was a door giving access to the tomb.1 The wall of enclosure was cased with marble; and above it, resting on pillars, there was an upper pavilion with a dome which was surmounted by a silver image of Christ.2 In the interior of the chapel, and on its northern side, there was a bench upon which the body of Christ was laid; this bench, cut in the rock of the cavern, was covered by marble slabs in which there were three small openings that permitted Christians to touch and kiss the sacred rock.1 One of the slabs was removable, and the guardian of the tomb seems to have added to his income by selling portions of the rock to pilgrims. The Angel Chapel had not then been erected, but the stone that was rolled away, upon which the angel sat, was shown three feet in front of the entrance to the sepulchral chamber.2

“Some difficulty arises from the obscurity of Daniel's notice of the Chapel of the Holy Sepulchre. In describing the little building, he says that there were three doors in the pavilion, or turret, above the sacred grotto, and that through these people entered the Sepulchre. Later, in his remarks on the descent of tine' Holy Light,' he says that on entering the church with the king they went to the eastern door of the Holy Sepulchre; Baldwin then proceeded to the place prepared for him, near the altar rail, in front of the east door of the tomb, and the Abbot of St. Sabbas, his monks, and the orthodox priests were ordered to take up a position above the tomb. Daniel was at the same time directed to place himself 'higher up, above the door of the Holy Sepulchre, in front of the high altar,' so that he might see through the doors of the tomb which were sealed up with the royal seal. At the eighth hour the orthodox priests, clergy, monks and hermits above the tomb commenced chanting the Vespers, whilst Daniel from his post kept watch over the three doors; a little later the Bishop left the high altar, and going to the door of the tomb, looked in through the grille; then, at the ninth hour, a fine rain came down through the open roof and wet all those above the tomb.

“There can, I think, be little doubt with regard to the position of the position of the three doors; they must have been in the wall of the enclosure, and not in the turret; and they must have led directly from the floor of the Rotunda to the space in front of the door of the sepulchral chamber which, at an earlier period, was occupied by an apse. When the Angel Chapel was constructed the position of the three doors, indicated on Fig. I (a, b, c), appears to have been preserved, for John of Wirzburg (1130) mentions three doors at the east end, one of which faced the choir; and Edrisi (1154) alludes to two doors, one on the north and one on the south, which were opposite the northern and southern entrances of the church.

“The exact positions occupied by the monks, priests and Daniel are more difficult questions. I am informed that, in each case, all the Russian MSS. read above the tomb in the sense of altitude, and this necessitates the existence of a gallery or terrace above the chapel. There is, however, no allusion to such a gallery in any of the writings that have come down to us; and Sæwulf's description of 'our Lord's Sepulchre, surrounded by a very strong wall and roof, lest the rain should fall upon it,' can hardly be reconciled with its existence. The Chapel of the Holy Sepulchre is, and always must have been, a small building, and there could have been no room above it for the numerous priests, monks and hermits indicated in the text; besides this, the priests would hardly have been allowed to occupy a position that might so easily lend itself to trickery in the production of the Holy Light. The position of Daniel, which enabled him to see through the three doors into the tomb, is also difficult to explain on the supposition that he was above it during the ceremony. It appears to me much more probable that the priests and monks took up a position on the floor of the Rotunda, near the north-east corner of the chapel, as they do now; and that Daniel's place was closer to the high altar and more nearly in front of the east door of the Holy Sepulchre.

Layout of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in the 12th Century

C. W. Wilson wrote: ““The 'Sepulchre' stood in the centre of the Church of the Resurrection, which was a circular building with a series of chapels attached to it; the probable form of the church at the time of Daniel's visit is shown in the accompanying plan, Fig. 2, which is a slight modification of Fig. 3, Plate I., in Professor Willis's 'Architectural History of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.' [Source: “The Pilgrimage of the Russian Abbot Daniel in the Holy Land” 1106-1107 A. D. By C. W. Wilson. London, 1888, Holy Fire]


Layout of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre today


“The walls of the church were divided into three stories, ground-floor, triforium, and clerestory. On the ground-plan there were, according to Daniel, twelve columns and six pillars; but the numbers were more probably ten and eight, arranged as shown on the plan. At the eastern end there was a wider arch, rising into the triforium, which opened into a short chancel terminated by an apse; in this apse was the high altar (2), and here the Latin priests stood (3) during the ceremony of the descent of the Holy Light; a raised step, or seat (4), without the altar rails was reserved for the King. The great arch and the apse were decorated with mosaics; in the spandrils of the arch was a representation of the 'Annunciation,' on the soffit a mosaic of the 'Ascension,' and the apse was adorned with an ' Exaltation of Adam.' Traces of the two first were seen and described by Quaresmius (1616-26); the third was destroyed when the Crusaders removed the apse and built their choir at the east end of the Rotunda, but a copy appears to have been put up over the high altar in the sanctuary of the new church.1 In the triforium there were sixteen columns, one over each of the columns and piers beneath, except over the two lofty piers at the east end; and in communication with the triforium gallery, probably where the Greek monastery now stands, there were apartments in which the patriarch resided. In the clerestory wall, above the triforium, there were sunk arched panels, which were ornamented with figures in mosaic: in the panel above the high altar was the figure of Christ; in the panels on the north and south, Helena and Constantine; and in the others, the Apostles and Prophets. These mosaics are mentioned by several pilgrims, and a full description of those that remained in his day is given by Quaresmius.1

“The roof of the church was of wood, 'built of 131 squared cedars, in the form of a single cone truncated at the top, where the light was admitted through a circular aperture, twelve feet, or perhaps more, in diameter.'2 This opening, first mentioned by Sæwulf, appears to have been retained in all repairs and alterations, for it is frequently alluded to by the later pilgrims. The Rotunda was partly encircled by a vaulted side-aisle, in the wall of which were the three apses mentioned by Arculfus3 as containing altars; the portions of the aisle at the east end were of square form, and connected, as shown on the plan, with the chapels to the north and south. Daniel states that the church had six doors, and he particularly mentions one on the west, through which he passed with King Baldwin to witness the ceremony of the descent of the Holy Light. The probable position of four of the doors may be seen on the plan (Fig. 2), and a fifth may have been the door on the north, mentioned by Edrisi;4 the sixth, or west door, if 'west' be not a copyist's error, must have led from Christian Street to the triforium, and thence by a flight of steps to the floor of the church. The narrative, however (p. 77) seems to indicate that Baldwin, on entering the church, went straight to the Holy Sepulchre without descending any steps; and in this case the door must have been on the south side.

Holy Places in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in the 12th Century


Calvary Stone

C. W. Wilson wrote: “The Holy Places mentioned by Daniel are: “1. 'The Navel of the Earth' was in a small oratory just outside the wall of the eastern apse (7); it is mentioned as the centre of the earth by Arculfus and Bernhard, and is 'the place called Compas' of Sæwulf. When the church was enlarged by the Crusaders it was included in the choir, where it is now pointed out to pilgrims. [Source: “The Pilgrimage of the Russian Abbot Daniel in the Holy Land” 1106-1107 A. D. By C. W. Wilson. London, 1888, Holy Fire]

“2. 'Golgotha' and 'Calvary' were in a small building (8, 9) outside of the church, and there was, as at present, an upper and a lower chapel; the chapels are respectively called Golgotha and Calvary by Daniel, and, perhaps more correctly, Calvary and Golgotha by Sæwulf.

“3. The 'place of the descent from the cross,' which appears to have been 'the Church of St. Mary, close to Calvary,' of Sæwulf was perhaps on the spot (11) now occupied by the Chapel of St. Mary of Egypt. It seems not impossible that the Crusaders, during their reconstruction, moved the stone of unction to the interior of their church, and that the tradition of the Church of St. Mary adhered to the original spot and gradually took its present altered form.1

“4. The 'Altar of Abraham' (10) was close to the place of Crucifixion; Arculfus places it between the Basilica of Constantine and the church on Calvary; Antoninus, at one side of the rock on which Christ was crucified, and Sæwulf, on Mount Calvary. It is now shown in a separate chapel a few feet to the south-east of the place where the cross is said to have been set up.

“5. The places of 'the parting of the vestments,' 'the crowning with thorns,' 'the mocking,' 'the smiting' (13), and of 'the prison' (12), are stated to have been under one roof to the north of, and not far from, the place of Crucifixion; according to Sæwulf the prison was in the court of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and the other


Stone of Anointing

“6. The Church and Convent of the Virgin at the place called 'Spudi' (20), whence Mary witnessed the crucifixion, and where the friends and acquaintances looked on from afar. This seems to have been the 'church in honour of St. Mary, with a most noble library,' which is said by Bernhard to have adjoined the 'hostel' founded by Charlemagne. According to Sæwulf, the church, which was called Sta. Maria Latina, was beyond the gate of the Holy Sepulchre to the south; it adjoined the Church of St. Mary the Less, and close to this last building was the Hospital and the celebrated Monastery of St. John the Baptist. In 'La Citez de Iherusalem,' the Church and the Monastery of Sta. Maria Latina, in which was the place called 'Spud,' are said to have been situated between the Church and Nunnery of St. Mary the Greater and the Hospital of St. John the Baptist; and they must therefore have occupied either the present site of the Greek 'Convent of Gethsemane,' or of the Mosque of El Omary.1

“7. The place where St. Helena found the Holy Cross, or of 'the Invention of the Cross,' was east of the place of Crucifixion; at the time of Daniel's visit there was only a small church (14) at the spot, but there had been a very large one which Sæwulf says was built in honour of St. Helena, and had been utterly destroyed by the Infidels. It is not unlikely that this large church, mentioned by Sæwulf and Daniel, was the Basilica of Constantine, and that the small church of the latter was the present Chapel of St. Helena, which, in all essential particulars, is a Byzantine building.

8. The 'doorway' to which Mary the Egyptian came (15) was east of the place of 'the Invention of the Cross.' According to Sæwulf, the picture of the Virgin, before which Mary prayed, was on the western wall of the Chapel of St. Mary, attached to the northern side of the Rotunda, and the doorway must therefore have been the northern one.1 At a later period the tradition went round to a door on the west of the church that appears to have been the door which led directly to the triforium.2 The place is now pointed out at the south door.

Description of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre by Sæwulf, A.D. 1102

“'The first place to visit is the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which is called the "Martyrium," not only on account of the arrangement of the streets, but because it is of greater renown than all other churches… In the middle of this church is the Sepulchre of the Lord, surrounded by a very strong wall, and covered over, lest rain should fall upon the Holy Sepulchre, for the church above is open to the sky In the court of the Church of the Lord's Sepulchre some very holy places are to be seen, namely, the prison in which, according to the testimony of the Assyrians, our Lord Jesus Christ was confined after He was betrayed; then, a little above,3 is the place where the holy cross and the other crosses were found, and where a large church was afterwards built in honour of Queen Helena, but which has since been utterly destroyed by the Pagans; below (i.e., to the west), but not far from the prison, is the marble column to which Jesus Christ our Lord was bound in the prætorium, and scourged with most cruel stripes. Near at hand is the spot where our Lord was stripped of His garments by the soldiers; and next the place where He was clad in a purple robe by the soldiers and crowned with the crown of thorns, and, casting lots they divided His garments. [Source: “The Pilgrimage of the Russian Abbot Daniel in the Holy Land” 1106-1107 A. D. By C. W. Wilson. London, 1888, Holy Fire]


Golgotha

“'Next we ascend Mount Calvary, where the patriarch Abraham, having raised an altar, would have sacrificed his own son at the command of God; there the Son of God whom he prefigured, was afterwards offered up as a sacrifice to God the Father for the redemption of the world. The rock of that mountain bears witness to the Lord's Passion; it is much cracked near the cavity in which the Lord s cross was fixed, because it could not bear the death of its Maker without splitting, as we read in the Passion, "and the rocks rent."1 Below is the place which is called Golgotha, where Adam is said to have been raised from the dead… Near the place of Calvary is the Church of St Mary, on the spot where the Lord's body, having been taken down from the cross, was anointed and wrapped in a linen cloth or shroud before it was buried.

“'At the head of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, in the wall outside, not far from the place of Calvary, is the spot which is called Compas, where Jesus Christ our Lord indicated with His own hand, and measured, the centre of the world, as the Psalmist bears witness, "For God is my King of old, working salvation in the midst of the earth."2 But some say that in that place the Lord Jesus Christ first appeared to Mary Magdalene when she sought Him weeping, and thought he had been the gardener, as is related in the Gospe . These most holy oratories are situated in the court of the Lord's Sepulchre, on the east side. But two most beautiful chapels in honour of St Mary and St. John3 are attached to the sides of the church itself, one on either side, as these witnesses of the Lord's Passion stood one on either hand of Him (when on the cross). On the west wall of the Chapel of St. Mary, on the Outside, is the picture of the Lord's mother, which, by speaking through the Holy Ghost, marvellously comforted Mary the Egyptian... as we read in her life.

“'On the other side of the Church of St. John is the fine Monastery of the Holy Trinity, in which is the place of the baptistery; the Chapel of St. James the Apostle, who first filled the Pontifical chair at Jerusalem, adjoins the monastery. These are all so built and arranged that anyone standing in the farthest church can clearly see all the five churches from door to door.

“'Without the gate of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, to the south, is the Church of St. Mary, which is called Latina, because the monks there perform divine service in Latin; and the Assyrians say that the blessed mother of God stood, during the crucifixion of her Son, our Lord, on the spot now occupied by the altar of this church. Adjoining this church is another Church of St. Mary, which is called the Little, where nuns devoutly serve the Virgin and her Son. Near this is the hospital where there is the celebrated monastery founded in honour of St. John the Baptist.' JOHN OF WIRZBURG. CH. XII. THE CHAPEL1 (monumentum) OF THE SEPULCHRE OF THE LORD; THE ALTAR OF THE HOLY SEPULCHRE; THE: INSCRIPTIONS; THE NEW CHURCH; THE CHOIR2; THE ALTAR OF THE: RESURRECTION; THE PROCESSION.


people lined up to touch the Rock of Cavalry

“The chapel, in which the Lord's Sepulchre is contained, is almost round in form; and it is decorated on the inside with mosaic work. It is entered from the east through a small door, in front of which there is an almost square covered area with two doors. By one of these doors persons entering the Chapel of the Sepulchre are admitted by the other those leaving it are passed out. In that covered area also the guardians of the Sepulchre reside. And it has a third little door towards (opposite) the choir. Outside the chapel, and attached to the west side, that is, at the head of the Sepulchre, there is an altar with a certain square superstructure, the three walls of which are of network beautifully made of iron,1 and the altar is called the 'Altar of the Holy Sepulchre.' This chapel has, above it, a pretty large sort of 'ciborium,'2 which is round, and has its upper surface covered with silver; it is raised upwards towards that wide opening to the air, high above, in that larger building.3 This building is circular, like a rotunda; it is pretty wide round the chapel, and the enclosing wall is continuous,4 largely painted and ornamented with various figures of the saints, and lighted by a number of lamps. In the narrower circuit of the same larger building, eight round marble columns, and the same number of square pillars, externally decorated with the same number of square marble tablets, and arranged in a circle, support a higher mass5 under the roof, which, as we have said, is open in the middle... We have said that the columns, to the number mentioned, are arranged in a circle; but at the east end alone their arrangement and number are changed on account of the addition of the new church, to which one passes from that point. And that new and recently added building contains a pretty wide choir (chorus Dominorum), and a pretty long sanctuary,6 containing a high altar consecrated in honour of the Anastasis, that is, of the holy resur- rection, as is also shown by a mosaic picture placed above it. For there is contained in the picture a figure of Christ rising from the dead, having broken the bars of hell, and dragging thence our old father Adam.1 Beyond this sanctuary of the altar, and within the circuit of the wall of enclosure, there is a pretty wide space, suitable for a procession,2 round this new building, as well as round the old building of the chapel already mentioned.

Jesus's Tomb Undergoes $4 million Restoration

In March 2017, Jesus’s tomb — where Jesus’s body is believed to have been interred after his crucifixion — reopens after nine-month, $4 million restoration. Harriet Sherwood wrote in The Guardian: “A team of Greek scientists and restorers has completed the nine-month renovation project, which focused on a small structure above the burial chamber, known as the Edicule. It is the most sacred monument in Christianity. “If the intervention hadn’t happened now, there is a very great risk that there could have been a collapse,” Bonnie Burnham of the World Monuments Fund, which had oversight of the project, told Associated Press. “This is a complete transformation of the monument.” [Source: Harriet Sherwood Religion, The Guardian, March 21, 2017 ==]

“The delicate restoration was carried out by a team of about 50 experts from the National Technical University of Athens, which had previously worked on the Acropolis in the Greek capital and the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul. The conservators worked mainly at night in order to allow pilgrims continued access to the shrine.


Dome Over the Tomb of Jesus

“The team also repaired and stabilised the shrine with titanium bolts and mortar, and cleaned thick layers of candle soot and pigeon droppings. The work involved the use of radar, laser scanners and drones. The structure had been held in place for almost 70 years by iron girders erected on the instructions of a British governor who ruled Palestine in the Mandate era. They have now been removed. The ceremony to mark the completion of the restoration will be in the presence of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, the spiritual leader of the world’s Orthodox Christians, and a representative of Pope Francis. The $4 million (£3.2 million) cost of the restoration came from contributions from the six denominations which share custody of the church, King Abdullah of Jordan, the Palestinian Authority, and Mica Ertegun, the widow of Atlantic Records co-founder Ahmet Ertegun, who gave $1.3m.” ==

Jesus's Tomb Exposed

In October 2016, a marble slab covering the rock-carved tomb was lifted for the first time in more than two centuries, as part of the $ million restoration, allowing restoration workers to examine the original rock shelf or “burial bed” on which Jesus’s body is thought to have rested. A small window was cut into marble slabs to allow pilgrims a glimpse of the rock. “The marble covering of the tomb has been pulled back and we were surprised by the amount of fill material beneath it,” archaeologist Fredrik Hiebert told National Geographic, which is a partner in the project. “It will be a long scientific analysis, but we will finally be able to see the original rock surface on which, according to tradition, the body of Christ was laid.”[Source: Harriet Sherwood, The Guardian, October 27, 2016]

“The tomb is situated inside a structure known as the Edicule.Antonia Moropoulou, the team’s chief scientific supervisor, said the removal of the marble slab, which measures about 3ft by 5ft, was a “critical moment” in the restoration of the Edicule. “The techniques we’re using to document this unique monument will enable the world to study our findings as if they themselves were in the tomb of Christ.”

Kristin Romey wrote in National Geographic, “Researchers have continued their investigation into the site where the body of Jesus Christ is traditionally believed to have been buried, and their preliminary findings appear to confirm that portions of the tomb are still present today, having survived centuries of damage, destruction, and reconstruction of the surrounding Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem's Old City. [Source: Kristin Romey, National Geographic, October 31, 2016 ^^^]


The Angel's Stone, a fragment of the stone believed to have sealed the tomb after Jesus' burial, in Jesus's Tomb

When the marble cladding was first removed on the night of October 26, an initial inspection by the conservation team from the National Technical University of Athens showed only a layer of fill material underneath. However, as researchers continued their nonstop work over the course of 60 hours, another marble slab with a cross carved into its surface was exposed. By the night of October 28, just hours before the tomb was to be resealed, the original limestone burial bed was revealed intact. "I'm absolutely amazed. My knees are shaking a little bit because I wasn't expecting this,” said Fredrik Hiebert, National Geographic's archaeologist-in-residence. "We can't say 100 percent, but it appears to be visible proof that the location of the tomb has not shifted through time, something that scientists and historians have wondered for decades." ^^^

“In addition, researchers confirmed the existence of the original limestone cave walls within the 19th-century Edicule, or shrine, which encloses the tomb. A window has been cut into the southern interior wall of the shrine to expose one of the cave walls. "This is the Holy Rock that has been revered for centuries, but only now can actually be seen," said Chief Scientific Supervisor Professor Antonia Moropoulou, who is directing the conservation and restoration of the Edicule.

“During the past few days, the burial bed has been resealed in its original marble cladding and may not be exposed again for centuries or even millennia. "The architectural conservation which we are implementing is intended to last forever," says Moropoulou. Before it was resealed, however, extensive documentation was performed on the surface of the rock. “Archaeologist Martin Biddle, who published a seminal study on the history of the tomb in 1999, believes that the only way to really know, or understand why people believe, that the tomb is indeed the one in which the Gospels say Jesus' body was laid, is to carefully review the data collected when the burial bed and cave walls were exposed. "The surfaces of the rock must be looked at with the greatest care, I mean minutely, for traces of graffiti," Biddle says, citing other tombs in the area that must have been of considerable importance because they are covered with crosses and inscriptions painted and scratched onto the rock surfaces. ^^^

“"The issue of the graffiti is absolutely crucial,” Biddle says. “We know that there are at least half a dozen other rock-cut tombs below various parts of the church. So why did Bishop Eusebius identify this tomb as the tomb of Christ? He doesn't say, and we don't know. I don't myself think Eusebius got it wrong—he was a very good scholar—so there probably is evidence if only it is looked for."” ^^^

Rivalry at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher

Harriet Sherwood wrote in The Guardian: “Six denominations – Latin (Roman Catholic), Greek Orthodox, Armenian Apostolic, Syrian Orthodox, Ethiopian Orthodox and Copts – share custodianship of the cavernous church. Bitter disputes over territories and responsibilities have erupted in the past, sometimes involving physical altercations. Disputes between the denominations have held up restoration work for decades. In a sign of the distrust between the different denominations, the keys to the church have been held by a Muslim family since the 12th century. [Source: Harriet Sherwood, The Guardian, March 21, 2017]


Stairway of Cavalry

Aviva and Shmuel Bar-Am wrote in the Times of Israel: To really understand the status quo of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher “it is helpful to examine the church’s interior. Divided both in terms of usage and in geographical area, its common areas include the church entrance, the Stone of Unction, the rotunda, its dome, and the sacred tomb of Jesus. Large and small candles belonging to each of the main communities flank the entrance to the tomb and indicate common rights. Every one of the huge pillars that surround the rotunda is assigned to a specific group; one column is divided between the Armenians and the Greek Orthodox. Other portions of the church are, in the main, divided among Greek Orthodox, Catholics and Armenians. Copts and Syrian Orthodox have fewer rights inside the church, although the Copts have a small chapel. [Source: Aviva and Shmuel Bar-Am, Times of Israel, September 7, 2012 /:\]

“Until the 17th century, the Ethiopians controlled several chapels in the church. Later, however, they didn’t have enough money to offer bribes to the Turks and lacked a powerful patron who could offer support. As a result, they were relegated to the rooftop of one of the church chapels. During a single hour that I spent recently at the church, Franciscans held prayers at Jesus’ tomb to a background of loud organ music, and at the same time Armenians ascended to the Greek Orthodox altar. Both seemed to be singing at the top of their lungs. And on Sunday mornings as many as five different liturgies can be heard. But despite the seemingly deafening cacophony of their worship, this was actually an exercise in harmony. For east and west were worshiping, each in its own manner — but from separate, and previously allocated areas. /:\

“The British who ruled the Holy Land from 1920-1948 prepared meticulous guidelines meant to help clarify issues relating to the Turkish status quo. Still referred to today, their memorandum should keep problems to a minimum. Yet a curious atmosphere of distrust and suspicion remains. Bloody disputes have broken out between the communities over who would clean the bottom step of a flight of steps leading from the church courtyard – property of the Greeks – to the Chapel of St. Mary’s Agony – which belongs to the Catholics. /:\

“Unfortunately, the step is uneven: at its lowest point it seems like part of the courtyard; on its tallest side it is indisputably a step. Today, the Catholics sweep the step daily at dawn and the Greeks clean it when they are cleaning the courtyard. Heavy candlesticks, and sometimes even a cross, have been known to make excellent weapons when a fistfight turns into a first-class fracas. At one time someone even grabbed a beam that covered a crack in the Chapel of the Skull and cracked a few bones instead. /:\

“When the Church of the Holy Sepulcher required repairs, the groups had a hard time finding the right style. They knew that even the tiniest modification of the status quo could create irrevocable changes in their position. As a result, although much of the church has been restored and a new lead covering – with a 200-year guarantee — was placed over the rotunda, for decades the various communities were unable to agree on interior decoration. Scaffolding remained under the dome until the end of the 20th century, an ugly reminder of unsolved disputes. Then, as the new millennium approached, all the parties agreed on a design. Today a golden, star-shaped inner dome shines above the rotunda. /:\

“My favorite example of the status quo is the ladder that leans against the exterior wall of the Holy Sepulcher, right below one of the church’s second story windows. It was used nearly 200 years ago to haul food up to Armenian monks who were locked in the church. With the situation frozen, probably forever, the ladder seems destined to remain until the ravages of time and weather cause it to crumble.” /:\

Whose chapel? Whose step? Whose ladder? The squabbles among differing Christian denominations at the Holy Places can seem petty to outsiders. Yet for much of the Christian world, these issues are vital, and they have been known to provoke bloodshed

Status Quo Agreement


the Immovable ladder on a ledge over the entrance that has been moved since the 18th century

The status quo divides the Holy Sepulcher among the Armenians, Roman Catholics and the Greek Orthodox who have the largest share. The Coptic, Ethiopian Orthodox and Syrian Orthodox churches also have duties to maintain specific areas. According to the Gerusalemme San Salvatore Convento Francescano St. Saviour's Monastery: “The Status Quo is a collection of historical traditions and influences, of rules and laws, which establish the relations, activities, and movements that are carried out in those parts of the church where ownership is shared by different Christian denominations. [Source: Gerusalemme San Salvatore Convento Francescano St. Saviour's Monastery]

“For centuries, the different Christian communities have lived side by side under Islamic domination, despite their profound differences in dogma, ritual and language. The Franciscans, who have been in the Holy Land since 1335, had over time acquired ownership of numerous places within the Holy Sites, and from 1516 to 1629 were in fact the largest owners.

“Following the conquest of Constantinople by the Turks in 1453, the Greek Patriarch, who had thereby become a subject of the Ottoman Empire, was granted jurisdiction over all Greek Orthodox adherents throughout the Empire. With the Turkish conquest of Palestine in 1516, this jurisdiction expanded to include the Orthodox

“Christians of the Holy Land. From that point, with the approval of the Ottoman Sultan, the Orthodox Patriarchs of Jerusalem were Greek. In 1622, at a time of bitter conflict between the Western powers and the Ottoman Empire, a dispute arose over the ownership of the Holy Places. The Franciscans, vulnerable to accusations of being spies for foreign powers, were placed in a difficult position, and in order to protecttheir rights had to appeal to the ambassadors of the European powers. The Greeks had the support of Russia, and the Holy Places became almost a traded commodity, particularly in the period from 1690 to 1757. In the first half of the 19th century, the alliance between Turkey and Russia had direct consequences on the question of the Holy Places, and in 1852 the Sultan promulgated the Status Quo nunc, freezing the conditions existing at the moment of the agreement, as had been sought by the Greeks.

“The Status Quo was confirmed as a legal instrument and continues to the present day as the sole frameof reference for resolving litigations and disputes. In the absence of official texts, notes of a private nature have to be relied on, often leaving the legal situation confused and uncertain. Two Muslim families have the privilege of guarding the door of the church, which is opened according to a schedule agreed to by the three largest religious communities. At the end of the First World War, with the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire and with the Holy Land becoming a British Mandate, the problems of the Holy Places became international ones. The Mandatory Power was unwilling or unable to act, and the Jordanian Government, which succeeded it in 1948, continued the same policy. The United Nations intervened on numerous occasions, naming commissions and pleading for the internationalization of Jerusalem, but without achieving any concreteresults.

At present, the three principal communities – Greek, Franciscan and Armenian – have managed to reach an understanding for the restoration of the church. The restoration works, which began in 1961, continue to the present day, albeit at a relatively slow pace.”

Scuffles and Fist Fights at Church of the Holy Sepulchre

Fights are not uncommon between the six Christian denominations who are responsible for maintaining its different chambers in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. The Greek Orthodox are regarded as the most powerful group, with the ancient church serving as the headquarters of the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem. The groups regularly fight over turf and influence, and police are occasionally forced to intervene. Such are the rivalries that the church keys have been entrusted for centuries to two Muslim families..

Fights over rights of worship at the church intensified in late 2000s, particularly between the Armenians and Greeks. On Sunday, Armenian and Greek Orthodox clergy accused each other of trying to violate the status quo. “Father Pakrad, an Armenian priest, accused the Greek Orthodox of trying to step on the Armenians' rights. "We are the weak ones, persecuted by them for many centuries," he told Associated Press.The Greek Orthodox Patriarch in the Holy Land, Theofilos III told Associated Press that the Armenians are becoming increasingly aggressive. "They are trying and claiming to acquire equal status and equal rights. They are not ready to admit that there are various communities there ... and that the Greek Orthodox is the main one in charge of the Holy Sepulcher and the head." [Source: Associated Press, April 20, 2008]

In April 2008, Israeli police had to break up a fight between Greek and Armenian priests and worshippers during Palm Sunday processions at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. Associated Press reported: “In the fight, a Greek priest was pushed to the ground and kicked, according to witnesses from both sides. Two Armenian worshippers were briefly detained by Israeli police. Scores of Armenian supporters staged a protest outside the police station during the questioning of the two, beating drums and chanting. [Source: Associated Press, April 20, 2008 +++]

“Father Pakrad, an Armenian priest, said the incident started when several Greek priests insisted on being present during the Armenian ceremony in the traditional tomb area. Pakrad said the presence of the Greeks was a violation of Armenian rights under the status quo. The Armenians "couldn't tolerate the presence of a Greek priest during the procession," he said. "Our priests entered the tomb. They kicked the Greek monk out of the Edicule." +++

“Theofilos III, told The Associated Press the Armenians are pushing to change the rules governing prayers and services. "This behavior is criminal and unacceptable by all means," he said. "They wanted to trespass on the status quo concerning the order that regulates the services between the various communities."” +++

In November 2008, Greek Orthodox and Armenian worshippers and clerics traded punches at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre Associated Press reported: Israeli police and troops moved into the shrine to bring the brawl under control. They said they arrested two clerics - one from each side. Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said the incident flared during the Feast of the Cross, a ceremony in which the Armenian community commemorates what it believes was the fourth century discovery of the cross upon which Jesus was crucified. [Source: Associated Press, November 10, 2008 <<>>]

“The police said the clerics were arrested after a fist-fight erupted during a procession of worshippers in the church, the traditional site of Jesus's crucifixion and resurrection. In the scuffle that took place, dozens of worshippers, dressed in the vestments of the Greek Orthodox and Armenian denominations, traded kicks and punches, knocking down tapestries and toppling decorations at the site in Arab East Jerusalem. At some point they literally kicked, punched and lashed out at each other with candles at the revered spots. Skynews said several followers were left with black eyes, bruises and cuts as priests tried to tear their rivals' robes off in the brawl.” <<>>

Church of the Holy Sepulchre’s Water Bill Dispute

In 2012, the BBC reported: “The Church of the Holy Sepulchre has warned that it may shut its doors to pilgrims in protest at a dispute with an Israeli water company. The church has had its bank account frozen at the request of Hagihon over an unpaid $2.3 million bill. The dispute has left hundreds of priests, monks and teachers unpaid. The church has traditionally not been charged for water, but Hagihon says it is owed money for the past 15 years. [Source: BBC, November 2, 2012 ^=^]

“According to the Israeli newspaper Maariv, there was a tacit agreement between the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem - which, along with the Armenian Orthodox Patriarchate and the Roman Catholic Franciscan Custos, is jointly responsible for the Church of the Holy Sepulchre's administration - and a former mayor of the city that the church would be exempt from water bills. ^=^

“But in 2004, Hagihon sent a demand to the church for 3.7 million shekels ($950,000; £590,000). It was backdated to when the company took over the water supply in the late 1990s. The Patriarchate reportedly believed it was a mistake because Hagihon did not press it to pay. The company is now demanding that the bill, which has risen to 9 million shekels ($2.3m; £1.4m) including interest, be settled. ^=^

“A Hagihon spokesman said Israeli law did not permit any exemptions. The company had not taken other enforcement steps, such as shutting off the water supply, in order not to disrupt activities at the site, he added. Father Isidoros Fakitsas, Superior of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, told the Associated Press that an agreement had been reached with Hagihon a few weeks ago. ^=^

“Under the deal, various denominations of the church would pay their monthly bill and the 9 million-shekel debt was to be forgotten, he said. But to his surprise the Patriarchate's bank account was blocked, making it impossible to pay stipends to some 500 priests and monks, 2,000 teachers and the running costs of more than 30 schools. ^=^

“According to Maariv, other services have also been affected, including telephones, internet and electricity, as well as companies supplying food. Father Fakitsas said the Patriarchate would be able to function despite the frozen bank account and that it would try to find an alternative if matters became too difficult, such as opening another bank account. Patriarch Theophilos III wrote a letter to Israel's prime minister and president warning that the "enforcement of this unjustified step undermines the sanctity and offends the sensitivity of the site". He told Maariv: "If nothing changes we intend to announce... for the first time in centuries, that the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is closed." The other Christian denominations which jointly manage the church are said to support the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate in its battle. The Israeli tourism ministry said the issue was between the Patriarchate and the Jerusalem municipality, but that it was trying to mediate between them and hoped that the dispute would be resolved quickly.” ^=^

Image Sources: Wikimedia, Commons

Text Sources: Internet Ancient History Sourcebook: Christian Origins sourcebooks.fordham.edu “World Religions” edited by Geoffrey Parrinder (Facts on File Publications, New York); “ Encyclopedia of the World’s Religions” edited by R.C. Zaehner (Barnes & Noble Books, 1959); King James Version of the Bible, gutenberg.org; New International Version (NIV) of The Bible, biblegateway.com; “Egeria's Description of the Liturgical Year in Jerusalem” users.ox.ac.uk ; Complete Works of Josephus at Christian Classics Ethereal Library (CCEL), translated by William Whiston, ccel.org , Metropolitan Museum of Art metmuseum.org, Frontline, PBS, “Encyclopedia of the World Cultures” edited by David Levinson (G.K. Hall & Company, New York, 1994); National Geographic, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Smithsonian magazine, Times of London, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, AFP, Lonely Planet Guides, Compton’s Encyclopedia and various books and other publications.

Last updated September 2018

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