Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Wikipedia
The Church of the Holy Sepulchre, also called the Church of the Resurrection by Eastern Christians, is a Christian church
within the walled Old City of Jerusalem. It is a few steps away from the Muristan.
The site is venerated by many Christians as Golgotha, (the Hill of Calvary), where the New Testament says that Jesus
was crucified, and is said to also contain the place where Jesus was buried (the sepulchre). The church has been an
important Christian pilgrimage destination since at least the 4th century, as the purported site of the resurrection of
Jesus. Today it also serves as the headquarters of the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, while control of the
building is shared between several Christian churches and secular entities in complicated arrangements essentially
unchanged for centuries. Today, the church is home to six denominations, Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Armenian
Orthodox, Syrian Orthodox, Coptic Orthodox, and Ethiopian Orthodox. The church is also of limited importance to
In the early second century, the site of the present Church had been a temple of Aphrodite; several ancient writers
alternatively describe it as a temple to Venus, the Roman equivalent to Aphrodite. Eusebius claims, in his Life of
Constantine, that the site of the Church had originally been a Christian place of veneration, but that Hadrian had
deliberately covered these Christian sites with earth, and built his own temple on top, due to his alleged hatred for
Christianity (the authenticity/inaccuracy of this claim is discussed below). Although Eusebius does not say as much,
the temple of Aphrodite was probably built as part of Hadrian's reconstruction of Jerusalem as Aelia Capitolina in 135,
following the destruction of the Jewish Revolt of 70 and Bar Kokhba's revolt of 132–135.
Emperor Constantine I ordered in about 325/326 that the temple be demolished and the soil - which had provided a flat
surface for the temple - be removed, instructing Macarius of Jerusalem, the local Bishop, to build a church on the site.
The Pilgrim of Bordeaux reports in 333: There, at present, by the command of the Emperor Constantine, has been built a
basilica, that is to say, a church of wondrous beauty. Constantine directed his mother, Helena, to build churches upon
sites which commemorated the life of Jesus Christ; she was present in 326 at the construction of the church on the site,
and involved herself in the excavations and construction.
During the excavation, Helena is alleged to have rediscovered the True Cross, and a tomb, though Eusebius' account makes
no mention of Helena's presence at the excavation, nor of the finding of the cross but only the tomb. According to
Eusebius, the tomb exhibited a clear and visible proof that it was the tomb of Jesus; several scholars have
criticised Eusebius' account for an uncritical use of sources, and for being thoroughly dishonest with Edward
Gibbon, for example, pointing out that Eusebius' own chapter headings claim that fictions are lawful and fitting for
him to use. Socrates Scholasticus (born c. 380), in his Ecclesiastical History, gives a full description of the
discovery (that was repeated later by Sozomen and by Theodoret) which emphasizes the role played in the excavations
and construction by Helena; just as the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem (also founded by Constantine and Helena)
commemorated the birth of Jesus, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre would commemorate his death and resurrection.
Constantine's church was built as two connected churches over the two different holy sites, including a great basilica
(the Martyrium visited by the nun Egeria in the 380s), an enclosed colonnaded atrium (the Triportico) with the
traditional site of Golgotha in one corner, and a rotunda, called the Anastasis ("Resurrection"), which contained the
remains of a rock-cut room that Helena and Macarius had identified as the burial site of Jesus. The rockface at the west
end of the building was cut away, although it is unclear how much remained in Constantine's time, as archaeological
investigation has revealed that the temple of Aphrodite reached far into the current rotunda area, and the temple
enclosure would therefore have reached even further to the west.
According to Christian tradition, Constantine arranged for the rockface to be removed from around the tomb, without
harming it, in order to isolate the tomb; in the centre of the rotunda is a small building called the Kouvouklion
(Kουβούκλιον; Modern Greek for small compartment) or Aedicule (from Latin: aediculum, small building), which
supposedly encloses this tomb, although it is not currently possible to verify the claim, as the alleged remains are
completely enveloped by a marble sheath. The discovery of the kokhim tombs just beyond the west end of the Church, and
more recent archaeological investigation of the rotunda floor, suggest that a narrow spur of at least ten yards length
would have had to jut out from the rock face if the contents of the Aedicule were once inside it. The dome of the rotunda
was completed by the end of the 4th century.
Each year, the Eastern Orthodox Church celebrates the anniversary of the consecration of the Church of the Resurrection
(Holy Sepulchre) on September 13 (for those churches which follow the traditional Julian Calendar, September 13 currently
falls on September 26 of the modern Gregorian Calendar)....
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