These pictures show the late antique church of Mar Sarkis (St. Sergius) which is sometimes ascribed an early C4th, possibly pre-Constantinian, foundation date due to the exceptionally rare survival of a horseshoe-shaped altar table. This shape is usually associated with pagan altars and in this case is believed to have been made for a Christian place of worship due to the lack of drainage channels for blood sacrifices. The church also housed a large collection of icons, including an 1813 image of SS. Sergius and Bacchus by Michael of Crete. The fate of these icons is currently unclear after an attack on the church by jihadists in the course of the Syrian civil war.
Images of the new church built at Dayr Mar Elian once it was established that the church built in 1938 was unstable and needed to be demolished. A traditionally-built small chapel was built over the sarcophagus and this larger, more modern church was built to the west of the cloister.
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
The church at Zarzma was built between the C10th and C16th at a site that is associated with St. Basil, an C8th holy man. There is believed to have been a church on this site since the C8th and a miraculous C9th icon is also linked with the site. Fragments of this icon are still extant in the Art Museum in Tbilisi and in the Hermitage in St. Petersburg.
Anchiskhati is a C6th basilica in Tbilisi that was named after the miraculous icon housed within it. This icon is now in the Art Museum in Tbilisi and is a C6th representation of the Mandylion. The basilica has been altered since the C6th, notably by raising the height of the building, and has a bell tower dated 1675.