Christ and the apostles stand immediately above the semi-dome of the apse on the triumphal arch. Christ is flanked by Saints Peter and Paul who have their recognisable features of white hair and beard for St. Peter and a dark beard and receding hairline for St. Paul. Although the scene has been quite damaged, some elements are very well preserved and the image of St. Paul was the only illustration used in the commemorative service books handed to priests during Pope John Paul II's visit to Damascus in 2001.
During Christ’s teachings and miracles in and around the Sea of Galilee, He delivered a collection of teachings that is commonly termed the Sermon on the Mount. This has come to represent the most important piece of teachings from Him and includes the Beatitudes and the Lord’s Prayer. They were written in the Gospel of Matthew, Chapters 5-7. The mountainside on which it took place is known as Mount of the Beatitudes and was said to overlook the Sea of Galilee. Since the 4th Century, a mountainside just north-east of Tabgha has been venerated as the place of the Sermon and a church was built on the site. Very little of this original structure remains and it is difficult to gain access to. In the 20th Century, a new church was built near to the 4th Century church.
Early sources reveal that Constantine’s church of the Holy Sepulchre was sumptuously decorated with fine marbled panels, columns and a coffered ceiling. A cross was set up on the rock of Golgotha to commemorate the exact site of the Crucifixion and was replaced over the following centuries with one decorated with gems, a golden cross and a simple wooden one in the seventh century. Christ’s tomb was in two parts: the first a porch that contained part of the stone that formed the door to the tomb and the second the tomb itself. It had a roof of silver and gold, outer walls made of marble and it was topped with a cross.
The modern church has been significantly modified and little of the Late Antique fabric has survived as much of it was rebuilt in the nineteenth and twentieth century following a fire and an earthquake that caused much damage.
Tags: Architecture, C12th, C19th-C20th, C2nd, C4th, Christ, Christian, Church, Constantine, Cross, Crucifixion, Crusades, Domed Basilica, Golgotha, Holy Sepulchre, Holy Site, Israel, Jerusalem, Joseph of Arimathea, Mosaic, Pilgrimage, Resurrection, St. Helena, Tomb
The first church of the Holy Sepulchre built by the Emperor Constantine was dedicated in the year 328 AD. It was accessed off one of Jerusalem’s main thoroughfares, the Cardo. The entrance led to a narthex, the basilica, an atrium and culminated with the Anastasis (or Resurrection) Rotunda that surrounded the much smaller edifice of Christ’s Tomb. Unfortunately, very little of this church now remains. The Late Antique foundations exist below ground level of the current church and are cut off from public view. Throughout its history, the church has undergone many remodelling and rebuilding programmes, much of which was caused by its turbulent history during the Persian invasion in the seventh century and the Muslim conquest of the city in the eleventh century. Much of the visible external architecture dates to the Crusader period.
Tags: Architecture, C12th, C19th-C20th, C2nd, C4th, Christ, Christian, Church, Constantine, Crucifixion, Crusades, Domed Basilica, Golgotha, Holy Sepulchre, Holy Site, Israel, Jerusalem, Pilgrimage, Resurrection, St. Helena, Tomb
A short distance from the church of the Annunciation in Nazareth is the church of the Nutrition. It was given this name as its original Late Antique church was constructed over the home and workshop of Joseph and was the place where Christ spent much of his childhood. This church incorporated grottos, cisterns and a ritual bath or baptismal font. It was used in the Crusader period, prior to its destruction by fire in the thirteenth century. The Franciscans rebuilt the current church in the twentieth century.
In the mid-fourth century, a church was constructed around a grotto in the town of Nazareth that was said to be the Virgin Mary’s house and the place where the archangel Gabriel appeared to her during the Annunciation. This holy site was clearly well established as a place of worship towards the end of the fourth century as the pilgrim Egeria describes an altar within a grand and splendid grotto. The Piacenza pilgrim who journeyed to Nazareth in the late sixth century states that there is a basilica at the House of Mary that contains many garments that once belonged to the Virgin. Today, remnants of wall paintings, mosaics, and the architecture from this early church building are visible.
Tags: Annunciation, Architecture, C20th, C4th, C5th-C6th, Cave, Christ, Christian, Cross, Foliage, Fresco, Geometric Motif, Greek Inscription, Holy Site, Inscription, Israel, Mosaic, Nazareth, Pilgrimage, St. Gabriel, Staurogram, Virgin Mary
A short distance from the church of the Nativity in Bethlehem is the Milk Grotto. This is the place where the Holy Family are believed to have taken refuge during the Massacre of the Innocents and before their flight into Egypt. The Virgin Mary is said to have nursed Christ in this grotto and legend states that a drop of her milk fell to the ground and turned the rock white. In the fifth century, a church was built around the holy site to celebrate this event and pilgrims venerated it throughout Late Antiquity. The Franciscans constructed the present church in the late nineteenth century.
The town of Bethlehem is located to the south of Jerusalem in the West Bank. Since the second century, pilgrims have flocked to the site traditionally associated as the place of Christ’s birth, a cave to the east of the town. In the fourth century, Helena, the Emperor Constantine’s mother, supposedly rediscovered the cave and had her son build a church to commemorate it. This church featured an octagonal structure at the eastern end that was positioned directly over the cave of the Nativity. At the centre of this octagon was a wide, circular opening to allow pilgrims to glimpse at the holy site. It was badly damaged during a Samaritan revolt in 529 AD and was rebuilt by the Emperor Justinian in the mid-sixth century. Much of this church has survived and is largely what is seen today. There were later modifications during the time of the Crusades, largely with the fresco painting on the nave columns. It is thus considered the oldest church in use.
Tags: Bethlehem, C12th, C2nd, C4th, C6th, Cave, Christ, Christian, Church, Column, Constantine, Corinthian, Crusades, Fresco, Geometric Motif, Holy Site, Icon, Justinian, Mosaic, Nativity, Octagonal, Pilgrimage, St. Helena, West Bank
Mount Tabor is an isolated oval-shaped mountain in the Jezreel valley and is situated to the south-west of the Sea of Galilee. It is associated as the place of Christ’s Transfiguration before Peter, James and John in the presence of Elijah and Moses. Pilgrims who venerated the site in the fourth century describe three churches built on the summit of the mountain that were dedicated to Christ, Moses and Elijah. The mosaics photographed here are from this period. The Crusaders founded a Benedictine abbey on the site, remnants of which are visible today. The Franciscans built a new church in the twentieth century and the place of the Transfiguration is located in the crypt.
Tags: Architecture, Baptistery, C12th, C20th, C4th, Christ, Christian, Church, Cross, Geometric Motif, Holy Site, Israel, Jezreel Valley, Mosaic, Mount Tabor, Mountain, St. Elijah, St. James, St. John, St. Peter, Transfiguration