HomeHome SitemapSitemap Contact usContacts

Catholic Church Annulment » Coptic Catholic Church

Church of the Holy Sepulcher

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre, called the Church of the Resurrection Is a Christian church within the walled Old City of Jerusalem. The ground on which the church stands is venerated by most Christians as Golgotha, the Hill of Calvary, where the New Testament says that Jesus was crucified. It is said to also contain the place where Jesus was buried (the sepulchre). The church has been an important pilgrimage destination since the 4th century. Today it serves as the headquarters of the Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem and the Catholic Archpriest of the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre.

The church was burned and looted by the Persians in 614, partially rebuilt by the Patriarch Modestos, damaged by earthquake in 808, and destroyed in 1009 by order of the Fatamid Caliph al-Hakim. A portion of the Church was again rebuilt by the Byzantine Emperor Constantine Monomachus in 1048, but most of the present building is the result of 12th century Crusader enlargement and reconstruction, as well as later renovations (the most recent preservation work was begun in 1959).

The Crusader architects incorporated what survived of the original Byzantine fabric in the area of the Rotunda, Golgotha and the Courtyard into their church. (The present columns and piers of the Rotunda replicate the approximate shape and design of the 4th century original, but at half the height.) The Basilica and Atrium were never rebuilt. However, a portion of the eastern entrance from the Cardo Maximus can be seen in the nearby Russian Orthodox Hospice on al-Dabbaghin Street.

Since the Crusades, the precincts and fabric of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher have come into the possession of the three major denominations - the Greek Orthodox, the Armenian Orthodox and the Latin Roman Catholics - whose rights of possession and use are protected by the Status Quo of the Holy Places, as guaranteed by Article LXII of the Treaty of Berlin (1878). The various chapels and shrines within the building are furnished and decorated according to the customs and rites of the religious community holding possession. The Egyptian Coptic Orthodox, the Ethiopian Orthodox and the Syrian Orthodox also possess certain rights and small properties within the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. The Coptic Chapel on the western side of the edicule enshrines a fragment of stone molding from an earlier monument, which can be seen beneath the altar. The Syrian Orthodox have a chapel on the west side of the Rotunda in which a portion of the original 4th century outer wall can be seen. The Ethiopian Orthodox have a monastery on the roof of the Armenian Chapel of St. Helena, amid the ruins of a 12th century Crusader cloister and refectory.

Since the renovation of 1555, control of the church oscillated between the Franciscans and the Orthodox, depending on which community could obtain a favorable firman from the Sublime Porte at a particular time, often through outright bribery, and violent clashes were not uncommon. In 1767, weary of the squabbling, the Porte issued a firman that divided the church among the claimants. This was confirmed in 1852 with another firman that made the arrangement permanent, establishing a status quo of territorial division among the communities.

In an incident in 2004 during Orthodox celebrations of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, a door to the Franciscan chapel was left open. This was taken as a sign of disrespect by the Orthodox and a fistfight broke out. Some people were arrested, but no one was seriously injured. The entrance to the church is through a single door in the south transept. This narrow way of access to such a large structure has proven to be hazardous at times. For example, when a fire broke out in 1840, dozens of pilgrims were trampled to death. In 1999 the communities agreed to install a new exit door in the church, but there was never any report of this door being completed

"We may not be absolutely certain that the site of the Holy Sepulchre Church is the site of Jesus' burial, but we have no other site that can lay a claim nearly as weighty, and we really have no reason to reject the authenticity of the site." (Bahat, 1986)

I live in Israel, and I am visiting Jerusalem every month. You can read more about the Church of the Holy Sepulcher at http://jerusalempedia.com/Church-of-the-Holy-Sepulchre.html I am writing about Jerusalem, and jerusalmepedia.com my site, is all about Jerusalem for all the world.


Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Daniel_Franka