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  • Tags: St. Helena

3 Items

Inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem

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.

Type: Architecture
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The external architecture of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem

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.

Type: Architecture
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The Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem

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.

Type: Architecture
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