|Introduction and Definition of the
Church of the Holy Sepulchre:
The Church of the Holy Sepulchre is a building
that encompasses the supposed sites of Christ's Passion, including his
crucifixtion and his burial place. At the time of Christ's death,
Calvary was just a rocky hill outside of Jersusalem. A century after
Christ was crucified at Calvary; the Roman Emperor Hadrian destroyed Jerusalem,
covering the venerated sites with shrines and temples. However, in
325 the Emperor Constantine I and his mother, Helena, who were Christians,
visited the Holy Land and uncovered Calvary and the Holy Sepulchre beneath
Hadrian's temples. They built a basilica over the tomb of Christ.
In the following years, the Constantinian basilica was destroyed in wars,
fires, and natural disasters. In 1099, the Crusaders found the building
in ruins. Instead of a single great building encompassing the several
sites of Christ's Passion, only individual chapels marked each place.
They rebuilt the church in a French Romanesque style, making it a shortened,
compact building, eliminating the long nave and the entrance courtyard
(the atrium) of the Constantinian era. The 12th century building
took fifty years to build and was finished in 1149. By the later
Middle Ages, the Holy Land returned to Muslim control, but Christian pilgrims
still visited the church. Managed by Franciscan friars, the Church
of the Holy Sepulchre was filled with many altars, chapels, sculpture,
and wall decoration. Margery Kempe speaks of her visit to the Holy
Sepulchre in detail in chapters 28 and 29 in The Book of Margery Kempe.
See EXTERNAL WEBSITES
The Peaceful Liberation of the Holy Places in the XIV Century
by Sabatino De Sandoli OFM: meticulous chronolgy with four plans of churches drawn in 1620.
Church of the Holy Sepulchre: a present day visit, chapter excerpts
from Aviva Bar-Am, Beyond the Walls: Churches of Jerusalem.
The Anonymous Pilgrim of Bordeaux (333 A.D.) The earliest Christian description of the Holy Places; A site sponsored by Christus Rex with extensive art work from the era and geographic descriptions.