Church of the Holy Sepulchre

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre also called the Church of the Resurrection by Orthodox Christians is a church within the Christian Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem. According to Christian beliefs this is the place where Isa As (Jesus) was crucified and also contains the place where Jesus is said to have been buried and resurrected.

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Overview

The church contains, according to traditions dating back to at least the fourth century, the two holiest sites in Christianity: the site where Jesus of Nazareth was crucified, at a place known as "Calvary" or "Golgotha" and Jesus's empty tomb, where he was buried and resurrected.

Within the church proper are the last four (or, by some definitions, five) stations of the Via Dolorosa, representing the final episodes of the Passion of Jesus. The church has been a major Christian pilgrimage destination since its creation in the fourth century, as the traditional site of the resurrection of Christ, thus its original Greek name, Church of the Anastasis ('Resurrection').

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre courtyard as seen after entering from Souq al-Dabbagh, the stairs to the left lead to the Saint Helena road. To the right is the Chapel of the Franks (10th station of Via Dolorosa).

Exterior

circa 330 CE

Parvis (Courtyard)
The courtyard facing the entrance to the church is known as the parvis. Located around the parvis are a few smaller structures. The current courtyard covers around 450 square meters of area.

circa 330 CE

Bell Tower
The 12th century CE bell tower of the Holy Sepulcher Church is located to the left of the façade. It is currently almost half its original size. Its upper level was lost in a 1545 CE collapse. In 1719, another two storeys were lost. Subsequent interventions did not address the structural damage, until 2001, when the Israel Antiquities Authority and The Technical Office of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem implemented a project for the conservation of the Bell Tower. Originally it was built over and around the existing chapel of saint John the Evangelist on the south side of the Anastasis at a time when the south facade of the crusader south transept was already standing.

circa 330 CE

Southern Entrance
The entrance to the church is in the south transept, through the crusader façade, in the parvis of a larger courtyard. The wooden doors that compose the main entrance are the original, highly carved arched doors. Today, only the left-hand entrance is currently accessible, as the right doorway has long since been bricked up. Since the 7th century CE, the Muslim Nuseibeh family has been responsible for opening the door as an impartial party to the church's denominations.

circa 330 CE

Chapel of the Franks
The chapel is located where according to Christian tradition the clothes of Jesus were stripped by Roman soldiers. It is regarded as the tenth station of Via Dolorosa and there is no station marker at this location. It is a blue-domed Roman Catholic Crusader chapel dedicated to Our Lady of Sorrows, which once provided exclusive access to Calvary. It is located directly above the Greek Orthodox oratory and chapel dedicated to the saint Mary of Egypt.

circa 330 CE

Immovable Ladder
Also known as the stationary ladder, it is a wooden ladder located above the entrance, under the window of the Church. Made of cedar wood, possibly from Lebanon, it was first mentioned in 1757 and has remained in that location since the 18th century, aside from being temporarily moved on two occasions. The ladder is referred to as "immovable" due to an understanding that no cleric of the six ecumenical Christian orders may move, rearrange, or alter any property without the consent of the other five orders.

circa 330 CE

Chapels of St. John and St. Abraham
The Chapel of St John, Armenian Orthodox, (left) and the entrance to the Monastery of St Abraham (left), Greek Orthodox, located in the Parvis (courtyard) of the Church. The St. Abraham’s Monastery (right) is in the southeastern portion of the Holy Sepulchre Square. It used to be run by the Ethiopians but it was transferred to the Greeks in 1660 because they failed to settle their taxes to the Sultan. Now, the St. Abraham’sGreek Orthodox Monastery is a Christian guest-house for pilgrims visiting Jerusalem.

circa 330 CE

Greek Orthodox Monastery of Gethsemane Metochion
Entrance to the Gethsemane Metochion (left) a small Greek Orthodox monastery, located opposite the courtyard of the Holy Sepulchre. The stairs to the right lead to the Saint Helena Street, the square tower in the top middle is the minaret of Masjid e Omar. The small chapel houses the icon of the Panagia, that is carried around the Holy Sepulchre during the procession for the Feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos on August 15/18.

Interior

circa 330 CE

Stone of Anointing
The Stone of Anointing at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, according to tradition, the body of Jesus was laid on this stone after it was removed from the cross and prepared for burial in accordance with Jewish customs. The wall behind the stone is defined by its striking blue balconies and tau cross-bearing red banners (depicting the insignia of the Brotherhood of the Holy Sepulchre), and is decorated with lamps.

circa 330 CE

Aedicule
The Aedicule (Latin), is a small chapel called the Kouvouklion in Greek, encloses the Holy Sepulchre. The Aedicule has two rooms, the first holding the Angel's Stone, which is believed to be a fragment of the large stone that sealed the tomb; the second is the tomb itself. A marble plaque was placed in the fourteenth century on the tomb to prevent further damage to the tomb.

circa 330 CE

Chapel of Saint Helena
The Chapel of Saint Helena is located between the Chapel of Division of Robes and the Greek Chapel of the Derision are stairs descending to the Chapel of Saint Helena. It is a 12th-century Armenian church in the lower level of the Church, constructed during the Kingdom of Jerusalem. There are two apses in the church, one dedicated to Saint Helena and one to the penitent thief on the cross. The chapel is modestly adorned in memory of Saint Helena's simplicity.

circa 330 CE

Chapel of Adam
On the ground floor, underneath the Golgotha chapel proper, is the Chapel of Adam. According to tradition, Jesus was crucified over the place where Adam's skull was buried. According to some, at the crucifixion, the blood of Christ ran down the cross and through the rocks to fill the skull of Adam. The Rock of Calvary appears cracked through a window on the altar wall, with the crack traditionally claimed to be caused by the earthquake that occurred when Jesus died on the cross.

circa 330 CE

Greek Orthodox Calvary
Golgotha (Greek Orthodox Calvary) and its chapels are just south of the main altar of the Catholicon. Just inside the church is a stairway climbing to Calvary (Golgotha), traditionally regarded as the site of Jesus' crucifixion and the most lavishly decorated part of the church. The exit is via another stairway opposite the first, leading down to the ambulatory.

circa 330 CE

Chapel of the Invention of the Holy Cross
Also known as the Chapel of the Finding of the Cross, another set of 22 stairs from the Chapel of Saint Helena leads down to the Roman Catholic Chapel of the Invention of the Holy Cross, believed to be the place where the True Cross and other instruments of the Passion and crucifixion were found. A statue behind the altar shows her holding the Cross. This rough-walled area has been built within part of the ancient quarry, apparently later converted into a cistern for water storage.

circa 330 CE

Franciscan Chapel of Mary Magdalene
The chapel of Mary indicates the place where Mary Magdalene met Jesus after his resurrection. Inside is an altar dedicated to St Mary Magdalene, then double bronze doors (donated by the people of Australia in 1982) leading to the Catholic Franciscan Chapel of the Apparition. It commemorates the ancient tradition that Jesus appeared to his mother after his Resurrection, an event not found in the Gospels. There is an organ fixed against the wall of the chapel said to be the one to which Jesus was tied when he was scourged.

circa 330 CE

Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament
Also known as the Franciscan Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament (or Chapel of the Apparition) – in memory of Jesus' meeting with his mother after the Resurrection. It commemorates the ancient tradition that Jesus appeared to his mother after his Resurrection, an event not found in the Gospels.

circa 330 CE

Greek Orthodox Chapel of Jesus' Prison
Entrance of the Greek Orthodox Chapel. According to tradition, this is one of the several purported locations where Jesus was imprisoned after being arrested from the Garden of Gethsemane. It is located in the north-east side of the complex, on the floor, in front of the chapel, is a mosaic figure of a double headed eagle - symbol of the Byzantine empire and the Greek Orthodox church.

circa 330 CE

Chapel of the Forty Martyrs of Sebaste
The Chapel of the Forty Martyrs (Greek Orthodox; at the base of the bell tower). This chapel is located today in the lowest story of the thirteenth century bell tower, and was formerly the monastery of the Trinity wherein were buried the patriarchs of Jerusalem. The present day chapel dates back to the restoration of the buildings under Constantine Monmachos in the eleventh century. The story below, however, further shows that there was a chapel dedicated to the Forty Martyrs.

circa 330 CE

Monastery of the Sultan (Deir as-Sultan)
The Sultan's Monastery (Arabic: دير السلطان‎, translit. Deir Al-Sultan, lit. 'Monastery of the Sultan') is a monastery located on the roof of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. The Status Quo, a 250-year old understanding between religious communities, applies to the site.

circa 330 CE

Chapel of Division of Robes
It is an Armenian chapel located on the eastern side of the church near the steps leading beneath ground level to the Chapel of St. Helena. The chapel marks the place where the Roman soldiers cast lots to divide Christ’s clothing between them. (John 19:23).

circa 330 CE

Greek Orthodox Chapel of Saint Longinus
The Orthodox Greek chapel is dedicated to Saint Longinus. Located on the Ambulatory (Corridor) this Greek Chapel of St Longinus is dedicated to the Roman soldier who pierced Jesus’ sidewith his spear and then accepted him as the Son of God. (Matthew 27, 54)

circa 1150 CE

Chapel of Saint Vartan
The main altar of the Armenian Chapel (left) and the framed DOMINE IVIMUS ship inscription to the right in the Chapel of Vartan. The quarry and chapel were excavated in 1970-71 under the direction of Archimandrite (now Bishop) Guregh Kapikian of the Armenian Orthodox Church. During the excavation parts of six ancient walls were found -- four dating to the Hadrianic period (2nd century CE) and two to the time of Emperor Constantine (4th century CE).

Others

circa 330 CE

Keys of the Holy Sepulchre
The keys to the main entrance of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre are entrusted to two of the Muslim families since Saladin era. This arrangement emerged during the days of the second caliph Umar Ibn al-Khattab, who hoped to avoid clashes among rival Christian sects for control over the church.

circa 330 CE

Tomb of Philip d'Aubigny
is placed in front of, and between, the church's two original entrance doors, of which the eastern one is walled up. It is one of the few tombs of crusaders and other Europeans not removed from the Church after the Muslim recapture of Jerusalem in the 12th century CE. A stone marker was placed on his tomb in 1925, sheltered by a wooden trapdoor that hides it from view.

circa 1150 CE

Stone Quarry
Beginning in about the seventh or eighth century BCE, the area where the church is now located was a large quarry, with the city of Jerusalem lying to the southeast. Traces of the quarry have been found not only in the church area, but also in excavations conducted nearby areas of Muristan and Jewish Quarter. East of St. Helena's Chapel in the Holy Sepulchre Church, the quarry was over 40 feet deep and the earth and ash therein contained Iron Age II pottery, from about the seventh century BCE.

Gallery

See Also

References

Points of Interest

Chapels

Chapel of the Franks · Greek Orthodoc Chapel · Coptic Chapel · Syrian Chapel · Chapel of the Apparition · Chapel of Saint Longinus · Chapel of the Division of the Raiment (robes) · Chapel of Saint Helena · Chapel of the Finding of the Cross · Chapel of the Derision · Chapel of Adam · Chapel of Saint Mary of Egypt · Chapel of the Angel

Chapels in Jerusalem

Tombs

Tomb of Jesus · Jewish Tomb

Other(s)

Keys · Prison of Jesus · Aedicule · Stone of Anointing · Greek Treasury · Greek Mosaic · Station of the Three Holy Women · Rotunda · Katholicon · Iconostasis · Altar of Saint Mary Magdalene · Arches of the Virgin · Rock of Golgotha · Column of Flagelation · Immovable Ladder

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