Church of Saint Philip's Sepulchre

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The Church of Saint Philip's Sepulchre is a fourth or fifth century basilica built over a Roman era tomb, believed to be the sepulchre of the martyred apostle Philip. The church was built around a first century sacellum tomb belonging to the Roman period cemetery.

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Overview

The church was discovered during the excavations in 2011 CE. The tomb was the object of intense veneration. From the narthex (entrance) the pilgrims could either climb a marble staircase to a platform above the tomb, or enter the church itself, in which the facade of the tomb was on the left of the central nave.

Surprisingly the tomb wasn’t discovered at the center of the octagonal hilltop martyrium as long expected, however, but in this newly excavated church about 40 yards to the east.

The Apostle Philip's remains are no longer in the tomb. It has been suggested was initially buried in this tomb and later the relics may have been relocated from Hierapolis to Constantinople in the late sixth century CE, and later potentially transferred to Rome, where they might have been placed in the newly consecrated Church of Saint Philip and Saint John (now known as the Church of the Holy Apostles). However, reports from the twelfth century CE indicate that Philip's remains were still observed in Constantinople, the Christian hub of Turkey.

Architecture

circa 90 CE

Tomb of Saint Philip
The facade (inspect) of the tomb, attributed to Saint Philip is constructed with travertine blocks and is surmounted by a tympanum. On the facade are numerous graffiti and holes made during the Byzantine time to attach metal ornaments. The funerary chamber (approx. 3.5 meters wide and 4 meters long) has stone benches on thres sides on which the corpses were laid.

To the right of the sepulchre, in the central nave, two baths for individual immersions, dating back to the fourth or fifth century CE, and two larger pools lined with marble slabs were discovered. Thus healing rituals were conducted in the sanctuary right next to the tomb, as in other Byzantine era sanctuaries of Anatolia (saint Michael in Germia and saint Thecla in Seleucia Pieria).

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References

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