The Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the holiest Christian site in the world.
Golgotha, or Calvary, where Jesus was crucified, and the tomb (sepulchre) where he was buried. It has been an important pilgrimage site since the 4th century CE.
It is thought the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is located over the actual tomb of Christ.
Gospel descriptions, which say that Jesus was crucified on a rock that looked like a skull outside the city (John 19:17) and there was a grave nearby (John 19:41-2). Windblown earth and seeds watered by winter rains would have created the green covering on the rock that John calls a "garden."
The Christian community of Jerusalem held worship services at the site until 66 AD.
Even when the area was brought within the city walls in it was not built over by the local inhabitants.
The Roman Emperor Hadrian built a Temple of Venus over the site in 135 AD, as he wished to claim the site for traditional Roman religion.
The eyewitness historian Eusebius claimed that in the course of the excavations, the original memorial was discovered.
The early Christian community of Jerusalem appears to have held 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 temple to Aphrodite.
The site remained buried beneath the pagan temple until Emperor Constantine the Great converted to Christianity in 312 AD.
He soon showed an interest in the holy places associated with his new faith, and commissioned numerous churches to be built throughout the Holy Land. The most important of these, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, was begun in 326 AD.
It was damaged by fire in 614 AD when the Persians invaded Jerusalem. They also captured the True Cross, but in 630, Emperor Heraclius marched triumphantly into Jerusalem and restored the True Cross to the rebuilt Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
In 638, the Christians were forced to surrender Jerusalem to Muslim control under caliph Omar.
1099 "mad" Fatimid caliph Hakim brutally and systematically destroyed the great church.
This was the church to which the knights of the First Crusade arrived to sing their Te Deum after capturing Jerusalem in 1099.
Godfrey of Bouillon, who became the first king of Jerusalem, declared himself Advocatus Sancti Sepulchri, "Defender of the Holy Sepulchre."
The Crusaders were slow to renovate the church, only beginning to make modifications in the Romanesque style in 1112.
It is managed by various churches first appointed when Crusaders held Jerusalem, are the Greek Orthodox, the Armenian Apostolic and Roman Catholic churches, the Coptic Orthodox, the Ethiopian Orthodox and the Syrian Orthodox agreement regulates times and places of worship for each Church.
The holiest site in Christendom remains divided beween denominations who guard their portions jealously.
It suffered from damage, desecration, and neglect, and attempts at repair (a significant renovation was conducted by the Franciscans in 1555) In recent times, a fire (1808) and an earthquake (1927) did extensive damage.
Byzantine, medieval, Crusader, and modern elements all mix together, and each governing Christian community has decorated its shrines in its own distinctive way.
Although it is the holiest site in all Christendom, and I thought it disappoints.
The exterior facade of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, on the east side of the church, was built by the Crusaders sometime before 1180.
The spot where Mary stood
The slab where Jesus was laid
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