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
Capernaum is an ancient fishing village situated on the northern shores of the Sea of Galilee. Within an insula of this village are a number of rooms that are traditionally associated with the house of Peter the Apostle. A simple, square room within this complex was given particular attention by the Christian community in the years immediately following his death. In the fourth century, this room became a Domus Ecclesia (a house church) and was the place for Christian prayer and gatherings. The numerous inscriptions on the painted plaster of this place suggest that it was a prominent centre of pilgrimage, even by this early period. In the fifth century, an octagonal church was built over the house church. It consisted of an inner octagon that was directly over the venerated room, a larger concentric octagon and an outer semi-octagon.
Tags: Architecture, Basalt, C1st-C2nd, C20th, C4th, C5th, Capernaum, Centrally-Planned, Christ, Christian, Church, Domus Ecclesia (house church), Galilee, Geometric Motif, Holy Site, Inscription, Israel, Mosaic, Octagonal, Pilgrimage, St. Peter, Wall