Situated at the heart of the Christian Quarter in the Old City of Jerusalem, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, also known as the Church of Resurrection , is a holy site for the city of Jerusalem as much as for the Christian world.
Tour the Interior Dome of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre
Entering the church from the single door on its southern end, you will notice in front of you a stone set above ground level. Known as the Stone of Anointing, this is said to be the place where Christ was prepared for burial.
Take your time as you circulate around the stone, making your way towards the center of the basilica where the Shrine of the Holy Sepulchre is set. It is here that all three denominations currently running the church have their daily services.
While the Stone of Anointing and the central shrine are at the disposal of all three custodian denominations - Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic and Armenian Apostolic - you will notice, as you tour the circular dome, several smaller shrines. These places of worship belong to specific denominations exclusively. If you happen to arrive at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre on a Sunday or a holy day, you will likely see different services being held in each of these spaces.
Walking off to either side of the circular dome, you will find that it is lined with smaller chapels. These too are denomination-specific sites under which the Greek Orthodox, Coptic Orthodox , Ethiopian and Syriac Orthodox hold their Sunday Liturgy.
When on a Christian tour to Israel , it is well worth the time to visit the myriad of shrines, tombs and chapels that lie inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
Architecture and Art of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre
Two important artistic features are located at the center of the church. The first is the circular hall at the center. Held up by several original columns from the 4 th century BC; this feature dates back to the time of Emperor Constantine's resurrection of the church.
The second is the mosaic directly behind the Stone of Anointing. This beautiful work of art, appropriately located by the Stone of Anointing, depicts the preparations of Christ's body before burial.
These two features, in all their historic and religious glory, have been carefully preserved and remain in relatively good condition.
Church of the Holy Sepulchre - The Story of the True Cross
At the order of Constantine , Rome 's first Christian Emperor who ruled over Palestine , construction work was set into motion to build a church on the grounds where Christ was buried.
In order for the church to be built, however, a pagan temple in honor of the Goddess Aphrodite needed to be demolished. It was during he demolition that, legend has it, Emperor Constantine's mother, Saint Helena , found buried remains of three crosses dating back to the time of Christ's crucifixion.
A miracle was needed to identify which of the relics belonged to the cross of Jesus himself and which belonged to the crosses of the two thieves crucified along with him.
A sick man, so the legend goes, was asked to touch the three pieces. He was miraculously healed when touching one of them. This piece has since been immortalized as the remains of Jesus' cross.
The legend of the rediscovery of the True Cross took place on the grounds of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. It is a piece of history, mysticism and folklore worth remembering when on a tour to the Holy Land.