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The Church of the Holy Sepulchre or Sacred Tomb

The Holy Sepulchre is the most sacred, ancient, important, magnificent and celebrated monument of the Christian faith.

The church of the Holy Sepulchre is in the center of Jerusalem, in the old city and on the hill of Golgotha. It is build on the site where Jesus Christ was crucified, buried and rose from the dead.

Architecturally the shrine has no consistency but if we study its history we will understand the reason of its present complex pattern. It consists of main buildings linked between them and in the internal we see churches, chapels, pilgrimages, basements, stairs, courtyards, balconies, corridors and offices. The decor is a mixture of Byzantine wall-paintings and statues, sites of renaissance style and also modern mosaics and icons.

The same applies to the exterior. The church stands among houses, monasteries and mosques but its highlight is its the great dome.

The pilgrims who visit the Sacred Tomb come from different doctrines and tribes. All these contrasts are the result of its history and the battles for its survival.

The sacred grounds of the Calvary (Golgotha) and the tomb of Jesus in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre are on the genuine topographic places they took place.

Other pilgrimages are determined as contextual to the events of the crucifixion and the burial, other are located by symbolic and theological relation and others are devoted to a person or event.

History of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre

The Church was build on the site where according to the writings of the New Testament Jesus Christ was crucified, buried and rose from the dead.

Titus in 135 AD rebuilds Jerusalem and in 137 AD the roman emperor Hadrian covers Golgotha and the Tomb of Christ with dirt and over them builds a temple dedicated to Venus thus trying to prevent Christians from coming and erase any traces of Christianity. He erected roman temples and public buildings and named the new town Aelia Capitolina.

In 326 AD St. Helena recovers The Cross. (the cross was among others in a cave where they used to throw them after the crucifixions and was distinguished because the minute they were taking It out of the crypt a miracle happened).

Constantine the Great and his mother St. Helena erected the first Church (326-335) after demolishing the roman buildings. This first church (Constantine's Basilica) was the most grandly, worthy and magnificent and was build by architect Zenobius and under the supervision of priest Eustathius.

Over the Tomb a circular building was erected and was named “Rotunda”. The Rotunda communicated with a huge basilica where the crypt of The Cross was. The historian Eusebius in his book “Biography of Constantine” gives a detailed description of the shape, the rich decorations of marbles, mosaics, gold and silver. He speaks of the inauguration of the temple on September 13th 336 AD from the bishops who participated the Council in Tyre.

In 614 AD the temple is destroyed from the emperor of Persia Chosroes II who seizes The Cross as a plunder and captures Patriarch Zechariah.

During 617 and 626 AD the new patriarch Modestos reconstructs the church but not to its original majestic figure due to absence of economical funds.

In 629 the Byzantine emperor Heraclitus defeats the Persians and returns triumphantly The Cross and patriarch Zacharia. He erects the Cross on the Calvary on September 14 of the same year.

In 637 the Muslims conquer Jerusalem but the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the Holy Lands are protected due to the edict «Ahtiname» (Omar's Treaty) of caliph Omar Hatab to Patriarch Sofronius.

In 969 Muslims burn the dome, ravage the Temple and burn the Patriarch of Jerusalem John 4 to revenge the expedition of Byzantine emperor Nic. Fokas in the east.

In 1009 AD fanatic Muslims make big destruction’s.

Between 1024 and 1048 after a piece treaty between the Byzantine emperor Romanos III and caliph Daher, the church is gradually rebuild with the help of the Byzantine emperors.

From 1099 until 1149 the church is gradually repaired form the crusaders.

In 1187-1190 Saladin after defeating the crusaders ravens the church brings down the Cross and turns it into a mosque. After an agreement with the Byzantine emperor Isaacios Aggelos he gives the church back to the Christians.

In 1390 new repairs are made.

Until the fall of Constantinople in 1453 the orthodox patriarchs kept the keys of the church. Sultan Suleiman renews this treaty by law in 1517 by Patriarch Dorotheos. With a new law of Suleiman the keys are given to a Muslim family in 1545. The canopy of the Holy Sepulchre is repaired

In 1545 Patriarch Germanos adds a small dome.

In 1719-1720 the church is repaired from the orthodox and the Catholics.

In 30-9-1808 Armenians burn most of the church.

In 1810 the church is rebuild with collections of the orthodox people worldwide and from the Greek architect Comnenos Mitilineos.

In 1834 and 1836 earthquakes damage the church. The repairs begin with great delay in 1867-1869 and the big dome of the temple is renovated from Russia, France and Turkey.

In 1927 the small dome is destroyed from an earthquake and the situation is disappointing.

In 1931-1933 the church is rebuild with the help of the Greek state.

In 1948 the big dome of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is hit from two Jewish mortars and is repaired.

In 1958 after an agreement of the three churches of Jerusalem (the Greek, the Latin and the Armenian) the restoration of the church begins.

In 1978-1985 the big dome is rebuild.

1993 - 1994 begins the embellishment with mosaics of the pilgrimage of the Stone of Anointing and the dome of the Katholiko.

In 1995 the exterior of the dome of the Katholiko is repaired with copper.

The restoration works continue until today.


Church square and Entrance in The Church Church Square Roof of The Church (1) Roof of The Church (2) South-east view of the Church
The Church - side view View of the Church from above





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