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Extras

Relics of Jesus

 

Shroud of Turin

Veil of Manoppello

Sudarium of Oviedo

Tunic of Argenteuil

True Cross

The practice of venerating relics of holy people is common to many faiths. For most Christians, physical objects associated with Jesus Christ or a saint have special significance and perhaps even healing power.

The Gospels tell of people being cured by touching Jesus’ cloak (Matthew 9:20-22, Mark 6:56). The Acts of the Apostles says Paul’s handkerchiefs healed the sick (Acts 19:11-12).

The earliest Christian communities would have treasured any reminder of their Saviour, but a flood of fake relics into Europe during the Crusades caused a general scepticism towards Christian relics.

Artefacts of the Crucifixion — fragments of the True Cross, Crown of Thorns and Nails, genuine or spurious — competed with a claimed feather from the archangel Gabriel’s wing, Noah’s axe, wine from the wedding feast of Cana, and hair of the Virgin Mary.

“What lies there are about relics!” Martin Luther declared.

He surmised that “one could build a whole house using all the parts of the True Cross found scattered throughout the world”. But when 19th-century French architect Charles Rohault de Fleury catalogued all known fragments he found they totalled only 4000 cubic centimeters — less than 3 per cent of the likely volume of the Cross.

In the 21st century, Polish journalist Grzegorz Górny and photographer Janusz Rosikoń spent two years investigating Christ’s relics for their book Witnesses to Mystery.

“Almost everywhere we went,” Górny said, “we were confronted with the same remarkable phenomenon: these relics seemed to attract the attention of academics more than that of religious devotees.”

Many purported relics of Jesus may be genuine, though their authenticity is impossible to prove. This article looks at some that have been subjected to scientific scrutiny.

Shroud of Turin

The Shroud of Turin, held in a chapel behind the Turin Cathedral, is the most scientifically studied religious relic in history. But science has been unable to prove whether it is the burial cloth of Jesus, with his image etched on its fibres at his Resurrection, or an ingenious medieval forgery.

Pilgrims viewing the Shroud during an exposition in 2015 (Stefano Guidi / Shutterstock)

Pilgrims viewing the Shroud of Turin during an exposition in 2015 (Stefano Guidi / Shutterstock)

The full-length image corresponds in many ways with the circumstances of Christ’s death as described in the Gospels. It depicts a muscular man of about 180cm and 77kg, who had been flogged, crowned with thorns, crucified by being nailed through the wrists, and wounded in the right chest.

The earliest mention of a cloth bearing the image of Jesus was by the Christian historian Eusebius of Caesarea (c.260-339), who said it was in Edessa (now the Turkish city of Urfa) at the court of the Arab King Abgar V, who died in AD 40 after reputedly converting to Christianity. There are later indications of its presence in Antioch, Cilicia, Cappadocia, Constantinople and Athens.

The first documented exposition of the cloth now held in Turin was at Lirey, in northern France, in 1355. It was sold to the Duke of Savoy in 1453 and moved to Turin in 1578. In 1983 it was donated to the Holy See, the episcopal jurisdiction of the Pope.

In 1532, while in Chambery, capital of the Savoy region of France, parts of the Shroud were charred in a chapel fire. Local nuns mended the damaged areas.

In 1898 Italian photographer Secondo Pia discovered that the image on the Shroud is in the form of a photographic negative. Every effort using modern technologies to produce an image with the same physical and chemical characteristics has failed.

Original negative of Italian photographer Secondo Pia in 1898 (Musée de l'Élysée, Lausanne)

Original negative of Italian photographer Secondo Pia in 1898 (Musée de l’Élysée, Lausanne)

Comprehensive research was carried out in 1978 by the Shroud of Turin Research Project team, which reported: “We can conclude for now that the Shroud image is that of a real human form of a scourged, crucified man. It is not the product of an artist. The blood stains are composed of haemoglobin and also give a positive test for serum albumin. The image is an ongoing mystery . . . .”

Most of the pollen grains found on the Shroud are from plants that grew in Judea. Mineral particles are of argonite, used in buildings of old Jerusalem.

The blood cells are from the rare AB group, more often found in Jews. But there is no image beneath the blood stains — so the blood was deposited before the image was formed.

How a man’s image could be imprinted on both sides of a cloth, at a depth of only about 200 nanometres, still puzzles scientists.

After five years of testing, Italian scientists from the National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development concluded in 2011 that it could only be the effect of an enormous discharge of electromagnetic energy in a very short amount of time — something like a flash of light.

“We have shown that a short burst of high-intensity ultraviolet light gives a linen colouration which overlaps much better with the microscopic characteristics of the Shroud image, compared to the colouration obtained thus far by chemical ‘contact’ methods like paints, acids and powders.”

However, they added, the ultraviolet radiation needed to instantly colour a cloth the size of the Shroud would require the power of 34 thousand billion watts — many thousand times more powerful than any modern source could provide.

Full-length negative of the front image on the Shroud (Wikipedia)

Full-length negative of the front image on the Shroud (Wikipedia)

In 1988 Church authorities permitted a small piece to be cut from a corner of the Shroud for radiocarbon dating. Tests carried out in Oxford, Zurich and Arizona, under the auspices of the British Museum, dated the cloth to AD 1260-1390 — suggesting the Shroud was a medieval forgery.

While this result appeared conclusive, other scientists questioned it on several grounds. These included:

„♦ The 81mm by 16mm sample was taken from only one area, a corner where it had been held up by unwashed hands for public exhibitions over the centuries.

In 2005 American chemist Raymond Rogers claimed this area contained almost indistinguishable cotton threads from the mending by nuns after the 1532 fire. Swiss textile restorer Mechthild Flury-Lemberg, who had carried out conservation work on the Shroud, said this was not so, but “The presence of the greasy dirt deposit at the ‘removal site’ alone would be sufficient to demonstrate the uselessness of the carbon-14 method, without having to construct an untenable ‘mending theory’.”

„ ♦ The porous nature of textiles such as linen, especially those frequently handled and exposed to human influences — make it difficult to find samples that have never been in contact with polluting materials. The Shroud’s fibres are dirty and heavily polluted by dust, burned shards, mucilage, mildew, spores, mites, and fungi.

„ ♦ Raw data from the 1988 tests was never released, despite numerous requests from scholars. Then French researcher Tristan Casabianca in 2017 used a Freedom of Information action to obtain data from the British Museum. A two-year analysis by a French-Italian team found the 1988 results were unreliable.

As the director of the Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit, Professor Christopher Ramsey, acknowledged back in 2008: “There is a lot of other evidence that suggests to many that the Shroud is older than the radiocarbon dates allow and so further research is certainly needed.”

 

Veil of Manoppello

A church in the village of Manoppello, in Italy’s Abruzzo province, displays a cloth with an image that bears a striking resemblance to the face on the Turin Shroud.

Unlike the Shroud’s image of a dead man, with eyes closed, the Veil of Manoppello shows the face of a living man, his open eyes engaging the viewer with a steady gaze.

Sixth-century sources locate such a cloth in the town of Camulia, near Edessa. In 574 the emperor Justin II moved it to Constantinople.

Believed to be one of the burial cloths of Jesus, it was adopted as the imperial standard and even taken into battle. Its image became the model for Christ’s face on Byzantine coins.

Around 700 Patriarch Kallinikos I of Constantinople took the cloth to Rome. Displayed in the old St Peter’s Basilica, it became the most popular pilgrimage attraction in medieval Rome and was referred to by Petrarch and Dante.

It became known as the Veronica, after the name of a woman in the devotional Stations of the Cross. On the way to Calvary, she reputedly wiped the face of Jesus and had his image imprinted on her cloth — an incident not recorded in the Gospels. The name given the woman derives from the Latin adjective vera (true) and Greek noun eikon (image).

In the 16th century the cloth mysteriously disappeared. An empty frame, with broken glass, remained in the Vatican treasury and an indistinct replica was displayed once a year in the new St Peter’s.

By 1638 the cloth had reappeared in Manoppello, where it is kept in a glass monstrance above the main altar in the Capuchin church and may be viewed from both sides.

Image on the Veil of Manoppello (ElfQrin / Wikipedia)

Image on the Veil of Manoppello (ElfQrin / Wikipedia)

The lifesize image is of a bruised face, curled sideburns, wisps of hair in the middle of a high forehead, and a thin beard forked in two. Every change of angle or lighting gives a different appearance.

“In person, it changes like a rainbow and seems to combine traits of holograms, photographs, paintings, and drawings,” writes journalist Grzegorz Górny.

The 17cm by 24cm cloth is of very thin byssus, a rare and expensive fibre known in ancient times as “silk from the sea” and obtained from mother-of-pearl. Scientists have found there are no traces of paint, rather the image results from modification of the fabric’s fibres and has a three-dimensional character.

Experts say intrusive scientific examination of the Veil is not possible because it would probably fall apart if it were removed from the two panes of lead glass where it has been stuck for centuries — and contamination from lead oxide in the glass could distort results.

While the Shroud of Turin is a photographic negative, the image on the Veil of Manoppello is positive. But scientists who have compared the two images have remarked on their similarity.

When Professor Andreas Resch, of the Institute for the Field Limits of Science in Innsbruck, overlaid high-definition prints of both images he concluded they showed “a 100 per cent match”.

“We can give only one explication of the perfect superimposition: the Veil of Manoppello and the Holy Shroud of Turin were in the same place,” he said.

There is one enigmatic difference that no scientist can explain: Although the cloth is transparent, the lock of hair in the middle of the forehead appears differently on each side.

Professor Jan S. Jaworski, of the University of Warsaw, and Professor Giulio Fanti, of the University of Padua, see this as “one of the particularities that speak in favour of the hypothesis of an Acheropita image” — meaning an image made without human hands.

They said their comparative study of the Veil and the Shroud also corroborated “the hypothesis that both images represent the face of the same tortured body”.

 

Sudarium of Oviedo

A crumpled piece of cheap linen with bloodstains but no image is kept in the Cathedral of Oviedo, in north-west Spain. It is believed to have been wrapped around Jesus’ head after he died, before Pontius Pilate gave permission for his body to be taken down from the cross.

The Sudarium — Latin for sweat cloth — would therefore be “the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head . . . rolled up in a place by itself” that was found in the empty tomb after the Resurrection, as described in John 20:7.

Tests on the Sudarium and the Shroud of Turin have found that the blood on both relics is of the same AB type.

Radiocarbon dating has placed the 84cm by 53cm cloth at around AD 700. Since it is first mentioned 130 years earlier by Antoninus of Piacenza, the radiocarbon result emphasises the difficulty of dating woven fabrics.

Sudarium of Oviedo (Reinhard Dietrich / Wikipedia)

Sudarium of Oviedo (Reinhard Dietrich / Wikipedia)

Antoninus in AD 570 wrote that the Sudarium was being cared for in a cave near the monastery of St Mark at Jerusalem. Later manuscripts trace its movements from Jerusalem to Alexandria, Cartagena, Seville and Toledo. It has been in Oviedo since the 11th century.

According to Dr Alfonso Sánchez Hermosilla, medical examiner for the Spanish Sindonology Research Centre Team: “From the forensic anthropology and forensic medicine point of view, all the information discovered by the scientific research is compatible with the hypothesis that the Shroud of Turin and the Sudarium of Oviedo covered the corpse of the same person.”

The most detailed research was carried out by a Valencia-based group, including specialists in criminology and haematology, in 1989. It concluded that the cloth covered the head of a body that had “died in conditions totally compatible with those of crucifixion”, and that stains caused by sharp objects on the nape of the neck were consistent with the head being crowned with thorns.

In Jewish custom such a cloth would have been wrapped around the head after Jesus’ death to absorb blood from his nose and mouth. Then it would have been placed in the tomb with the body.

X-ray fluorescence testing has found dirt on the Sudarium similar to samples from the site of Calvary. Pollen grains endemic to the Mediterranean region were identified, three of them found only in Palestine. Traces of myrrh and aloe, used in anointing corpses, were also noted.

 

Tunic of Argenteuil

A tattered and bloodstained woollen garment, woven without seams, is preserved in the Basilica of St Denis in Argenteuil, a north-western suburb of Paris.

Is this the “seamless tunic” of Jesus referred to in the Gospel of John (19:23), for which the Roman soldiers cast lots at the Crucifixion?

After vague references to it in the 5th and 6th centuries, the Tunic of Argenteuil is believed to have been obtained by the emperor Charlemagne, who bequeathed it before he died in 814 to the Benedictine convent in Argenteuil, where his daughter Theodrada was abbess.

Around 850 the convent was destroyed in a Norman invasion, but before then the Tunic had been walled up in a special hiding place with letters in French and Latin attesting to its origin. The garment and letters were rediscovered in 1156.

In 1793 the parish priest of Argenteuil cut the Tunic into several pieces, each hidden in a different place, to prevent its complete destruction during the French Revolution. Most of the pieces were later recovered and sewn together with a reinforcing lining.

Restoration was undertaken in 2015, when the garment was sewn on to a paler woollen cloth.

Tunic of Argenteuil (Shroud.com)

Tunic of Argenteuil (Shroud.com)

The tunic measures one metre across and is just under a metre long. It is woven from sheep’s wool, dyed purple-brown by a mixture of madder (a plant found in the Mediterranean region) and a mordant of iron.

In 1998 scientists from the Optics Institute in Paris found the bloodstains on the Tunic coincided with the wounds visible on the Shroud of Turin. The AB blood type is the same as on the Shroud and the Sudarium of Oviedo.

In 2004 further investigations were undertaken by French scientists Professor André Marion and Professor Gérard Lucotte, founders of the Institute of Genetic Molecular Anthropology in Paris.

Using scientific imaging equipment, Professor Marion mapped the bloodstains and found the most bloodied areas were in a 20cm strip from the left shoulder to the middle of the back, suggesting they were made by a long and heavy object that pressed against the wearer’s back.

Professor Lucotte found traces of urea, a constitutive element of perspiration, in the blood. He said these indicated the rare condition of haematidrosis, in which extreme stress causes a person to sweat blood. The Gospel of Luke (who was a doctor) records that Jesus sweated drops of blood in the Garden of Gethsemane (22:44).

The scientists found pollen grains belonging to several plant species already discovered on the Turin Shroud or Sudarium of Oviedo.

The Tunic was radiocarbon dated in 2004 and 2005, the results indicating the periods of AD 530-650 and AD 670-880. Supporters of the Tunic see these results — as with the carbon dating of the Shroud and the Sudarium — as further indications of the difficulty of dating woven fabrics, which easily absorb contaminating substances.

Furthermore, if the radiocarbon dating of the Shroud of Turin (to AD 1260-1390), the Sudarium of Oviedo (to around AD 700) and the Tunic of Argenteuil (to AD 530-880) are all accurate, then it must be assumed that three highly sophisticated forgeries were produced over a period of hundreds of years during the Middle Ages, all consistent in blood type, arrangement of wounds and presence of pollen grains.

 

True Cross

Of all the reputed relics of Jesus, the best-known are fragments believed to be from the True Cross. Scores of these are venerated in churches around the world.

The largest (63.5cm by 39.3cm and 3.8cm thick) is in the Monastery of Saint Toribio De Liébana near Potes in northern Spain. Another large piece (over 42cm long) is in St Mark’s Basilica in Venice.

Reputedly the largest surviving piece of the True Cross, in Monastery of Saint Toribio De Liébana, Spain (Francisco J. Díez Martí / Wikipedia)

Reputedly the largest surviving piece of the True Cross, in Monastery of Saint Toribio De Liébana, Spain (Francisco J. Díez Martí / Wikipedia)

Other relics are held in Jerusalem by the Armenian Orthodox Church, the Greek Orthodox Church, and the Syriac Orthodox Church. There are three in St Peter’s Basilica, Rome.

In the absence of radiocarbon dating, their authenticity cannot be established.

St Helena, mother of emperor Constantine, is believed to have unearthed the True Cross in a cistern near Golgotha during preparations for building the original Church of the Holy Sepulchre over the site of the Crucifixion around 325.

Eusebius of Caesarea cites a letter written between 338 and 340 by Constantine to Bishop Macarius of Jerusalem saying that Helena had found “evidence of Christ’s holy Passion, which had lain hidden for so long”.

Helena is said to have divided the Cross into three pieces. She took one to Rome, left one in Jerusalem, and gave the third to her son to take to Constantinople, his new capital.

Fragments were soon circulating, as St Cyril of Jerusalem declared in 348 that the “whole earth is full of the relics of the Cross of Christ”.

The pilgrim Egeria wrote of venerating the piece in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre on Good Friday in 383.

In 638, as Muslim forces besieged Jerusalem, Patriarch Sophronius I divided the relic into 19 pieces and distributed them across the Middle East. Only four remained in Jerusalem when the Crusaders recaptured the city in 1099.

Titulus Christi in Rome (Reliquiosamente.com)

Titulus Christi in Rome (Reliquiosamente.com)

When the Fourth Crusade sacked Constantinople in 1204, the piece of the True Cross held there was carved up and slivers were given to churches, monasteries and palaces across Europe.

The devotion accorded these relics, often held in reliquaries of precious metals, no doubt encouraged the thriving trade in spurious items that took place at this time.

In Rome, Helena kept her part of the True Cross in her palace, the Palazzo Sessoriano, which she later converted into the Basilica of the Holy Cross in Jerusalem — so called because she ordered soil from Jerusalem to be spread on the floor around the reliquary.

Three small pieces are still displayed there, along with other reputed relics of the Passion and a tablet called the Titulus Crucis, which was traditionally believed to have been part of the wooden notice placed by Pontius Pilate on the Cross, bearing the words “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews” in Hebrew, Latin and Greek. (John 19:19-20)

Radiocarbon dating tests on the Titulus were carried out by the Roma Tre University of Rome in 2002, giving a result of AD 980-1146, so it may be a copy of the lost original which pilgrims in the 4th and 6th centuries reported seeing in Jerusalem.

 

References

Cruz, Joan Carroll: Relics (Our Sunday Visitor, 1984)
Górny, Grzegorz, and Rosikoń, Janusz: Witnesses to Mystery; Investigations into Christ’s Relics (Ignatius Press, 2019)
Pazos, Antón M. (ed): Relics, Shrines and Pilgrimages: Sanctity in Europe from Late Antiquity (Routledge, 2020)
The Basilica of the Holy Cross in Jerusalem (official booklet)
Thiede, Carsten Peter, and D’Ancona, Matthew: The Quest for the True Cross (Phoenix, 2000)

 

Official websites

Shroud of Turin
Holy Face Sanctuary, Manoppello
Tunic of Argenteuil

 

Other external links

3-D Processing to Evidence Characteristics Represented in Manoppello Veil (The Holy Face of Manoppello)
14C Dating of the ‘Titulus Crucis’ (The University of Arizona)
ABO-typing of ancient skeletons from Israel (American Journal of Physical Anthropology)
A Comparison between the Face of the Veil of Manoppello and the Face of the Shroud of Turin (Heritage)
AMS Dating Textiles (Beta Analytic Testing Laboratory)
An instructive inter-laboratory comparison: The 1988 radiocarbon dating of the Shroud of Turin (Journal of Archaeological Science)
Commonalities between the Shroud of Turin and the Sudarium of Oviedo (Spanish Sindonology Research Centre)
Comparative Study of the Sudarium of Oviedo and the Shroud of Turin (Spanish Sindonology Research Centre)
Proceedings of International Workshop on the Scientific Approach to the Acheiropoietos Images (ENEA Research Center of Frascati)
Radiocarbon Dating of the Turin Shroud: New Evidence from Raw Data (Archaeometry)
Researching relics: new interdisciplinary approaches to the study of historic and religious objects (ResearchGate)
Santo Toribio de Liébana (Wikipedia)
Shroud of Turin (Wikipedia)
Shroud of Turin: Interview with Researcher Who Debunked the 1988 ‘Medieval’ Dating (Townhall)
Statistical and Proactive Analysis of an Inter-Laboratory Comparison: The Radiocarbon Dating of the Shroud of Turin (Entropy)
Sudarium of Oviedo (Conservapedia)
The Seamless Tunic (Shroud of Turin website)
The Sudarium of Oviedo and the Shroud of Turin (The Review of Religions)
The Holy Face (Juliusz Maszloch)
The Invisible Mending of the Shroud, the Theory and the Reality (Mechthild Flury-Lemberg)
The Shroud of Turin: A Critical Summary of Observations, Data and Hypotheses (Turin Shroud Center of Colorado, 2017)
The Shroud of Turin: forgery or divine? A scientist writes (Tom Chivers)
The Shroud of Turin: Latest Study Deepens Mystery (National Catholic Register)
The Sudarium of Oviedo and the Shroud of Turin (The Review of Religions)
The Sudarium of Oviedo: Its History and Relationship to the Shroud of Turin (Mark Guscin)
Titulus Crucis (Wikipedia)
True Cross (Wikipedia)
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A Holy Land hymn

Filed under: Extras — 12:39 pm

“In the Land where Jesus walked” is a modern Christian hymn about places in the Holy Land where events in the life of Jesus took place. The words are by Pat McCarthy and the music by Robert Loretz, developed from an ancient Jewish folk melody.

Watch a choral performance below:

See the musical arrangement here.

“In the Land where Jesus walked” was published in 2019 by See the Holy Land under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International licence. This means it may be used in any medium or format provided appropriate credit is given to the authors (more details at https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/4.0/).

Lyrics

In the Land where Jesus walked

Heaven-sent, a stranger came

Angel Gabriel his name

Mary gave her humble yes

Transforming God’s Word into flesh

This happened in Nazareth

Nazareth in Zebulun

This happened in Nazareth

In the land where Jesus walked

 

Winter’s night, a teenage birth

Cause of joy for all the earth

Angel chorus sang of peace

To shepherds who smelt of their sheep

This happened in Bethlehem

Bethlehem, King David’s town

This happened in Bethlehem

In the land where Jesus walked

In the Jordan, Jesus went

Never needing to repent

Then he heard his Father tell

Beloved Son, you please me well

This happened in Bethany

Bethany Beyond the Jordan

This happened in Bethany

In the land where Jesus walked

Wedding guests, but no more wine

Though it was not yet his time

When his mother took a hand

He made the best wine in the land

This happened in Cana

Cana of Galilee

This happened in Cana

In the land where Jesus walked

Sick made well, the blind to see

Teaching with authority

He called fishers from the sea

And said they would catch you and me

This happened beside the lake

Beside the lake of Galilee

This happened beside the lake

In the land where Jesus walked

Beaten, mocked, unfairly tried

Jesus cruelly crucified

When he rose on Easter morn

The whole world in him was reborn

This happened in Jerusalem

Jerusalem, the holy city

This happened in Jerusalem

In the land where Jesus walked

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Events in Jesus’ life

Significant events in the life of Jesus are listed here, with places where these events are commemorated.

Conception of Jesus: Church of the Annunciation, Nazareth (Luke 1:26-38)

Birth of Jesus: Grotto of the Nativity, in Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem (Luke 2:1-20)

Baptism of Jesus: Bethany Beyond the Jordan, in Jordan (Matthew 3:13-17)

Temptation by the devil: Mount of Temptation (Matthew 4:1-11)

First miracle: Cana in Galilee (John 2:1-11)

Meeting the Samaritan woman: Jacob’s Well, near Nablus (John 4:5-42)

Teaching in the Nazareth synagogue: Church of the Synagogue, Nazareth (Luke 4:16-30)

Bethany Beyond the Jordan

Remains of Christian sites at Bethany Beyond the Jordan, with steps leading to Church of John the Baptist, under far shelter (Seetheholyland.net)

Teaching in the Capernaum synagogue: Old synagogue at Capernaum (Mark 1:21-28)

Sermon on the Mount: Mount of Beatitudes, Galilee (Matthew 5:1 – 7:28)

Raising the widow’s son: Nain in Galilee (Luke 7:11-17)

Calming the storm, and many other events: Sea of Galilee (Mark 4:35-41)

Teaching the Lord’s Prayer: Church of Pater Noster, Mount of Olives (Matthew 6:7-14)

Healing a man possessed by demons: Kursi in Galilee (Luke 8:26-39)

Feeding the 5000: Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes, Tabgha in Galilee (Matthew 14:13-21)

Healing a paralysed man: Pools of Bethesda, Jerusalem (John 5:2-18)

Healing blind men: Pool of Siloam, Jerusalem (John 9:1-41); Bethsaida in Galilee (Mark 8:22-26)

Announcing the Church: Near Caesarea Philippi in Galilee (Matthew 16:18)

Transfiguration: Mount Tabor in Galilee (Matthew 17:1-9)

Raising of Lazarus: Bethany, near Jerusalem (John 11:1-44)

Bethany

Entrance to the Tomb of Lazarus (Seetheholyland.net)

Healing of Bartimaeus: Jericho (Mark 10:46-52)

Seeking refuge at Ephraim: Taybeh (John 11:54)

Triumphal entry into Jerusalem: Bethphage (Matthew 21:1-11)

Weeping over Jerusalem: Church of Dominus Flevit, Mount of Olives (Luke 19:41-44)

Last Supper: Cenacle, Mount Zion (Matthew 26:17-30)

Agony in the garden: Church of All Nations, Mount of Olives (Matthew 26:36-46)

Betrayal by Judas: Gethsemane, Mount of Olives (Matthew 26:47-56)

Denial by Peter: Church of St Peter in Gallicantu, Mount Zion (Matthew 26:69-75)

Crucifixion, burial and Resurrection: Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem (Matthew 27:27 – 28:10)

Appearance on the road to Emmaus: Nicopolis, Abu Ghosh and El-Qubeibeh (Luke 24:13-35)

Appearance in Galilee: Church of the Primacy of Peter, Tabgha (John 21: 1-19)

Ascension: Dome of the Ascension and Church of the Ascension, Mount of Olives (Acts 1:9-11)

 

 

Older Posts »

Overnight in the Holy Sepulchre

By Pat McCarthy

Getting permission to stay overnight in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre — the ancient edifice in Jerusalem that enshrines  the place where Jesus died and rose again — is easier than I expect.

Church of the Holy Sepulchre overnight

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre, built over Calvary and the Tomb of Christ (Seetheholyland.net)

The Franciscan sacristan consults a slip of paper with numbers on it, checking he’s within his quota of 15. “No sleeping,” he warns.

Sleep? At the most sacred place on earth? Then I remember the disciples who could not stay awake one hour with Jesus during his agony — their drowsiness recalled by sleeping figures under the altar in the Grotto of Gethsemane.

My wife Suzie and I had led our fifth pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Our pilgrims had gone home and we were spending time by ourselves in the Old City of Jerusalem.

 

Door-locking follows protocol

The dun-coloured Romanesque basilica stands gloomily against the darkening sky when we arrive, well ahead of the 7pm closing time we have been given.

We wait on one side to watch the door-locking ceremony.

Two gun-toting Israeli policemen see the last visitors off the premises and an Orthodox clergyman pushes the massive door shut. Representatives of the other denominations, one a brown-habited Franciscan with a crewcut, see that protocol is observed.

Church of the Holy Sepulchre overnight

An Orthodox clergyman closes the door of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre (Seetheholyland.net).

Outside, a man in a striped T-shirt — from one of the two Muslim families who for more than 750 years have been charged with holding the key and opening or closing the church — climbs a ladder and locks the door.

He then passes the ladder through a square hatch in the door, so it can remain inside until opening time.

The clergy depart and our small group of all-nighters — 15 altogether, including four nuns, from Mexico, the United States, New Zealand — is alone in lamp-lit shadows beneath the sombre darkness of the great dome.

 

Reverential silence permeates the building

I’ve spent many hours in this church over the years, marvelling that mind-boggling events of salvation history happened right here. Always it has been abuzz with visitors — cameras flashing, cellphones ringing, the chatter of conversation, tourists getting their photos taken in front of Christ’s Tomb . . . .

Church of the Holy Sepulchre overnight

The edicule containing the Tomb of Christ, with doors closed while sacristans work inside (Seetheholyland.net).

Tonight it is quiet. This unlikely fact is worth restating: It is quiet. Quiet to climb the timeworn steps to the mezzanine floor of Calvary. Quiet to visit the Tomb where Christ lay — the site of the Resurrection. Quiet to descend 29 steps to the underground Chapel of St Helena and, further down, the rock-cut cistern that is now the Chapel of the Finding of the True Cross.

A reverential silence permeates this vast building with its sprawling jumble of 20-plus chapels and worship spaces.

At the edicule (“little house”) built over the Tomb, its unstable walls held together by iron girders installed in 1934 during the British mandate, Orthodox sacristans move in to trim the flickering oil lamps and pick up rubbish left by visitors.

 

‘He is risen! He is not here.’

Church of the Holy Sepulchre overnight

Inside the Chapel of the Angel, with a low doorway leading to the Tomb. The pedestal at right contains what is believed to be part of the rolling stone that closed the Tomb (Seetheholyland.net).

When their work is done, we can visit the Tomb in our own time. Past memories of being herded in and hurried out by a Greek Orthodox priest controlling a motley queue of visitors behind police barriers are best forgotten.

The edicule has two chambers. The first, the Chapel of the Angel, is an antechamber leading to the Tomb. In the Tomb chamber, a marble slab on the right covers the rock bench on which the body of Jesus lay. The slab was deliberately split in 1555 to deter the Ottoman Turks from looting such a fine piece of marble.

Half a dozen ornate lamps and a similar number of candles burn, casting a glow on artworks and vases of flowers. The sweet smell of incense lingers. The angel’s words resonate: “He is risen! He is not here.”

Leaving the Tomb, I forget how low the doorway is and bang my head on the carved stone arch.

Church of the Holy Sepulchre overnight

The marble slab covering the rock bench on which Christ’s body lay. The slab was deliberately split in 1555 to deter Turks from looting it (Seetheholyland.net).

Sitting on a bench in front of the Tomb, one of our all-nighters makes notes on her iPad. At the altar of Mary Magdalene, two nuns sit and pray, their backpacks beside them.

In the distance a church bell rings. Somewhere in the church a dove coos. In the living quarters, a key turns and a door opens. Feet hasten on stone steps, evoking an image of Mary Magdalene and the apostles running to the Tomb.

 

Orthodox faithful arrive for Divine Liturgy

Shortly after 10.30pm a cool breeze sweeps through the church. The door has been opened and scores of Orthodox faithful, the women wearing head scarves, stream in for their Divine Liturgy.

Church of the Holy Sepulchre overnight

Orthodox faithful, arriving for their Divine Liturgy, venerate the Stone of Anointing that commemorates the preparation of Christ’s body for burial (Seetheholyland.net).

They crowd the Stone of Anointing and queue to enter the Tomb. Some light bunches of tapers from candles outside the Tomb, then hold them under a snuffer to extinguish them to take home.

An air of business prevails as Orthodox clergy and sacristans bustle around to prepare for the vigil service. It reminds us that the Church of the Holy Sepulchre — which the Orthodox more appropriately call the Church of the Anastasis (Resurrection) — has been predominantly an Orthodox place of worship since 1757.

Six churches share the building: Greek, Armenian, Syriac, Coptic and Ethiopian Orthodox, and Catholics. The Greeks rate first in the pecking order, followed by the Catholics (known as Latins in the Holy Land).

A Greek priest emerges from the Katholikon — the main worship space, which is the Greek Orthodox cathedral — and physically uncrosses the legs of an unsuspecting all-nighter. Crossing the legs is a no-no to the Orthodox, who believe we should always sit attentively in church.

Church of the Holy Sepulchre overnight

Orthodox clergy undertake an energetic round of incensing before their Divine Liturgy (Seetheholyland.net).

An energetic round of incensing, including the Catholic chapels, precedes the Orthodox liturgy. The service itself — in front of the edicule, with the congregation standing — is a splendid ritual of ornate vestments, bells, chants, incense and processions.

The only words we recognise are “Kyrie Eleison”. This plea for the Lord’s mercy is repeated time and again.

As we move closer to observe, a Greek priest confronts us. “You Orthodox?” he demands. We shake our heads. “Go, go.” Vigorous arm movements support his words of muscular, rather than ecumenical, Christianity.

 

Orthodox service takes four and a quarter hours

We retreat to the calm of the Catholic Chapel of the Apparition, which commemorates the tradition that the resurrected Christ appeared first to his Mother. In the choir behind us, Franciscan friars begin to chant their Office.

Around 3am a series of resounding responses from the Orthodox congregation heralds the end of the service — four and a quarter hours after it began.

Church of the Holy Sepulchre overnight

Behind tall candlesticks, Orthodox clergy celebrate their Divine Liturgy (Seetheholyland.net).

Gradually the stillness returns. Lamps gently flicker. Noises echo in cavernous spaces.

There’s time to meditate and pray. To bring the Risen Lord into the past, present and future of ourselves and our loved ones. To remember those who have died and gone before us. To remember those who had asked us to pray for them in the holy places.

Time to reflect on the artworks and to think of the thousands of holy people and pilgrims who have walked these flagstones.

 

Eucharist in the Tomb

Shortly before 4.30am a Franciscan invites us to the first Catholic Mass of the day — inside the edicule, in Italian.

The priest has set up an altar over the Tomb slab. Two nuns bend low to join him in that confined space. The other nine of us, one a young man wearing a Jewish prayer shawl around his shoulders, cluster elbow to elbow in the Chapel of the Angel, around a central pedestal containing what is believed to be a piece of the rolling stone used to close the Tomb.

At Communion time the priest tucks the chalice into the crook of his left elbow, holds the ciborium in his left hand, and gives the Eucharist by intinction on the tongue. The simpleness of the ritual in no way detracts from the immense reality: The Body and Blood of Christ in the very place where his body lay.

Church of the Holy Sepulchre overnight

An altar is set up over the marble slab covering the rock bench where the body of Jesus lay (Seetheholyland.net)

As we leave the church, the sequence of worship is continuing. A sing-song chant is rising from the Coptic Orthodox at their tiny altar attached to the rear of the edicule. Upstairs, Franciscan friars are concelebrating in the Chapel of Calvary.

We walk down deserted streets of shuttered shops in the Old City. A lone star stands out in the predawn sky. A rooster crows. We buy warm cinnamon croissants from a man pushing a barrow.

Our vigil is over, but the sounds and smells and images remain vivid in our minds. And we are still not sleepy.

 Pat McCarthy, a Knight of the Holy Sepulchre, directs Seetheholyland.net

Related articles:

Church of the Holy Sepulchre

Church of the Holy Sepulchre chapels

Older Posts »

Inside an Eastern church

 

Melkite Church of the Annunciation, Jerusalem

Bright frescoes and gilded iconostasis in Melkite Church of the Annunciation, Jerusalem (Seetheholyland.net)

For Western Christians unfamiliar with the rich church decoration and elaborate worship of the Eastern Church, a visit to the Melkite Church of the Annunciation in the Old City of Jerusalem offers a useful introduction.

This unobtrusive building — not to be confused with the towering Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth — is the patriarchate church of Jerusalem’s Greek Catholics.

Usually overlooked by both mapmakers and pilgrims, it is tucked into the patriarchate property in the Christian Quarter. (Entering the Old City through the Jaffa Gate, take the third street on the left — Greek Catholic Patriarchate Road — and the patriarchate is about 50 metres on the right. Descend the stairs to the left of the reception desk and the church door is on your left.)

Melkite Church of the Annunciation, Jerusalem

Road sign near Melkite Church of the Annunciation, Jerusalem (© Joseph Koczera)

The separate existence of the Greek Catholic Church dates from 1724, when a split occurred in the ancient Greek Orthodox patriarchate of Antioch and a small group chose communion with Rome rather than Constantinople.

Now numbering 1.6 million worldwide, the Greek Catholics form the second largest Christian church in the Holy Land (after the Greek Orthodox). An Arab church, it has big numbers in the Galilee and a small community in Jerusalem.

Melkite Church of the Annunciation, Jerusalem

Door to Melkite patriarchate, Jerusalem (© Joseph Koczera)

Melkite, meaning “royalist”, was originally an uncomplimentary term applied to Eastern Christians who accepted the authority of the 451 Council of Chalcedon and the Byzantine Emperor. The term is no longer used by the Eastern Orthodox.

 

Frescoes in ‘symphony of colour’

The Church of the Annunciation, built in 1848, is arguably the most representative Byzantine church in Jerusalem.

From the dome down to pew-height, its interior is richly adorned with frescoes in vibrant colours. As writer George Martin puts it, the church “seems alive with prayer even when silent. The vaults and walls . . . are covered in a symphony of colour.”

Melkite Church of the Annunciation, Jerusalem

Christ the Pantokrator in dome of Melkite Church of the Annunciation, Jerusalem (Seetheholyland.net)

The frescoes, which simulate the stylised motifs of Byzantine icons, were added during renovations in 1974-75. The artists were two brothers from Romania, Michael and Gabriel Moroshan.

In Orthodox tradition, the frescoes follow a clear theological plan. At the top, in the dome, is Christ the Pantokrator, the Ruler of All. Depicted below him, around the dome, are the central act of worship, the Divine Liturgy; the Twelve Apostles; and major prophets and other figures of the Old Testament.

From there, clockwise around the church, the entire life of Christ — from the Annunciation to the Resurrection — is illustrated with profound symbolism. Below is a layer depicting saints, to remind worshippers that these holy people are present during worship.

Melkite Church of the Annunciation, Jerusalem

Birth of Jesus, in Melkite Church of the Annunciation, Jerusalem (Seetheholyland.net)

This description of the scenes from Christ’s life comes from Living Stones Pilgrimage: With the Christians of the Holy Land, co-authored by Alison Hilliard and Betty Jane Bailey:

“Each scene is interconnected: Take the scene of Christ’s birth, painted directly opposite the scene of the Resurrection. Both symbolise why Christ came to earth.

“In the first icon, Christ is born into a stone coffin, a sarcophagus, a symbol of death. His mother is kneeling next to him, dressed entirely in red.

“This is unusual: In the East, the Virgin Mary is normally painted in blue and red — the blue stands for heaven, the red for earth — symbolising the one who combines heaven and earth by giving birth to the God-man. In this scene, however, Mary’s dress is explained by looking across the church at the icon of the Resurrection.

Melkite Church of the Annunciation, Jerusalem

Resurrection of Jesus, in Melkite Church of the Annunciation, Jerusalem (Seetheholyland.net)

“Here Christ is shown standing on the shattered gates of hell in the form of a cross bridging the mouth of hell. He is resurrecting out of the sarcophagus Adam and Eve, symbolic of mankind. Eve is dressed in red, just as Mary was, showing that the first Eve, who sinned, is replaced by the second one who gave birth to Christ who overcomes sin and raises us to life.

“The second icon therefore completes the scene of the Nativity and explains it theologically. Make the connection from manger to coffin, from swaddling clothes to shroud, from cave to tomb and from birth to death and the new birth of Resurrection.”

 

Suggestion of final glory

Melkite Church of the Annunciation, Jerusalem

Below icons of saints, curtains are drawn over today’s holy people, in Melkite Church of the Annunciation, Jerusalem (Seetheholyland.net)

Powerful symbolism continues around the church. Below the icons of saints, down at pew level, the artists have painted drawn curtains. The suggestion is that, on the last day, the curtains will be pulled back and worshippers will see their own faces glorified.

Across the front of the church, the iconostasis separates the nave from the sanctuary. This screen is richly embellished with gilded icons, Christ depicted on the right of the central doors and the Virgin Mary with the Christ child depicted on the left.

The central doors, known as the Royal Doors, open out to the congregation three times during the liturgy: When Christ comes in the form of the Gospel and a deacon stands in front of the doors to read the text; when the unconsecrated gifts of bread and wine are taken to the altar; and at Communion time when the priest brings out the Eucharist to distribute it to the congregation.

Melkite Church of the Annunciation, Jerusalem

Royal Doors in iconostasis of Melkite Church of the Annunciation, Jerusalem (Yoav Dothan)

To quote Hilliard and Bailey: “The opening of the Royal Doors is therefore seen to be symbolic of how God erupts into human history — through his Word and his Sacrament.”

As worshippers leave the church, a fresco of the dormition of the Virgin Mary reminds them that they are going back into the world where, inevitably, they will die. Mary’s death is presented as a model for their own deaths as her soul, in the form of a small baby, is being taken to heaven by Christ.

 

Byzantine liturgy and Orthodox traditions retained

While the Melkites have adopted some Roman Catholic practices, they have essentially retained the Byzantine liturgy and many other Orthodox traditions. Arabic is the main language of worship.

Like the Orthodox clergy, Melkite priests may marry before their ordination.

Melkite Church of the Annunciation, Jerusalem

Sts Peter and Paul embracing, in Melkite Church of the Annunciation, Jerusalem (Seetheholyland.net)

Melkites make the Sign of the Cross in the same way as the Orthodox — forehead to chest, then from right to left, with the thumb, index and middle fingers joined in honour of the Trinity. The other two fingers are pressed to the palm, in honour of Christ’s two natures, divine and human, in one Person.

Veneration of icons is a common Byzantine practice, respect being paid not to the painting itself but to the person it represents. Some icons are believed to be the means of obtaining miracles, and people pray in front of them for healing or other assistance.

For a sense of the colourful mosaic of Eastern Christian traditions, a small museum in the hallway near the entrance to the church has exhibits of dress, vestments, liturgical items and photos from all of the Oriental churches present in Jerusalem.

 

Administered by: Melkite Greek Catholic Church in the Holy Land

Tel.: 972-2-6282023 or 972-2-6271968/9

Open: 8.30am-3pm (sometimes later); services Monday-Wednesday and Friday 7am, Thursday and Saturday 6pm, Sunday 9am. Museum open 9am-12 noon daily (except Sunday) and on request.

 

Related article:

Churches in the Holy Land

 

 

References

Anonymous: Griechisch-Katholisch-Melkitisches Patriarchat (Greek Catholic Patriarchate leaflet, undated)
Hilliard, Alison, and Bailey, Betty Jane: Living Stones Pilgrimage: With the Christians of the Holy Land (Cassell, 1999)
Macpherson, Duncan: A Third Millennium Guide to Pilgrimage to the Holy Land (Melisende, 2000)
Martin, George: “The Melkites of Jerusalem” (Catholic Near East, November-December 1995)

 

 

External links

Melkite Greek Catholic Church Information Center
Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarchate
Brief video of church interior (YouTube)

 

Older Posts »

Pilgrims’ experiences

Filed under: Extras — 12:45 pm

Pilgrims up till the Middle Ages

Pilgrims in modern times

 

The first recorded pilgrim to the Holy Land was a bishop named Mileto, from Sardis in Asia Minor, around AD 160. The 4th-century Church historian Eusebius relates that Bishop Mileto visited the holy places “where the Scriptures had been preached and fulfilled”.

What follows on this page are glimpses of the experiences of some of the men and women, both ancient and modern, who have followed Melito’s example. Their words may inspire you to visit the Holy Land — or enable you to make a virtual pilgrimage.

 

Pilgrims up till the Middle Ages

The anonymous Bordeaux Pilgrim of AD 333 (so-called because his itinerary began at Bordeaux in France), in the earliest surviving description of a Christian traveller in the Holy Land, visits the place of Christ’s crucifixion and Resurrection:

“On the left hand is the little hill of Golgotha where the Lord was crucified. About a stone’s throw from thence is a vault wherein his body was laid, and rose again on the third day. There, at present, by the command of the Emperor Constantine, has been built a basilica, that is to say, a church of wondrous beauty, having at the side reservoirs from which water is raised, and a bath behind in which infants are washed [baptised].” More >>

Various

Image of Egeria (Wikimedia)

The ever-enthusiastic and energetic Egeria (around 384), possibly a consecrated virgin from Spain, was a woman of unbounded curiosity, whose guidebook was her Bible during a three-year pilgrimage. Here she climbs stone steps up Mount Sinai:

“They are hard to climb. You do not go round and round them, spiralling up gently, but straight at each one as if you were going up a wall, and then straight down to the foot, till you reach the foot of the central mountain, Sinai itself. Here then, impelled by Christ our God, and assisted by the prayers of the holy men who accompanied us, we made the great effort of the climb. It was quite impossible to ride up, but though I had to go on foot I was not conscious of the effort — in fact I hardly noticed it because, by God’s will, I was seeing my hopes coming true. So at ten o’clock we arrived on the summit of Sinai, the Mount of God where the Law was given, and the place where God’s glory came down on the day when the mountain was smoking. The church which is now there is not impressive for its size (there is too little room on the summit) but it has a grace all its own. And when with God’s help we had climbed right to the top and reached the door of this church, there was the presbyter, the one who is appointed to the church, coming to meet us from his cell. He was a healthy old man, a monk from his boyhood and an ‘ascetic’ as they call it here — in fact just the man for the place.” More >>

Various

Historical image of Bethlehem (Vasily Polenov, 1882)

The aristocratic Roman widow Paula, who travelled to the Holy Land with her daughter Eustochium in the 4th century, contrasts the wealth of Rome with the poverty of Bethlehem:

“Where are spacious porticoes? Where are gilded ceilings? Where are houses decorated by the sufferings and labours of condemned wretches? Where are halls built by the wealth of private men on the scale of palaces, that the vile carcase of man may move among more costly surroundings, and view his own roof rather than the heavens, as if anything could be more beauteous than creation? . . . In the village of Christ . . . all is rusticity, and except for psalms, silence. Whithersoever you turn yourself, the ploughman, holding the plough handle, sings Alleluia; the perspiring reaper diverts himself with psalms, and the vine-dresser sings some of the ballads of this country, these are the love-songs, as they are commonly called; these are whistled by the shepherds, and are the implements of the husbandman. Indeed, we do not think of what we are doing or how we look, but see only that for which we are longing.” More >>

Various

Sinai landscape in Felix Fabri’s pilgrimage journal (Wikimedia)

The German Dominican friar Felix Fabri, on the first of his two pilgrimages to the Holy Land in 1480, gets his first glimpse of Jerusalem:

“Casting our eyes to the right, lo! like a flash of lightning the oft-mentioned and oft-to-be-mentioned holy city of Jerusalem shone forth. The part of it which we saw was that which adjoins the Mount Sion, and we saw the holy Mount Sion itself, with all its buildings and ruins. Above all we saw the citadel of Sion, fortified with exceeding strong walls and towers, in such a clear light that the lofty walls and towers of the citadel seemed to enclose the whole city, and the pilgrim, or stranger who had never seen Jerusalem could not but think that the walls of the citadel of Sion were the walls of Jerusalem, which however is not so. When we beheld with our eyes the long-desired holy city, we straightaway dismounted from our asses and greeted the holy city, bowing our faces to the earth . . . .” More >>

 

Pilgrims in modern times

Various

Historical image of Jerusalem (Hubert Sattler, 1869)

Patty Parma, a licensed professional counsellor from San Antonio, Texas, discovers in 2004 that there are Living Stones as well as ancient stones in the Holy Land:

“As I met the Palestinian Christians in places such as Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Mount of Beatitudes, and Birzeit, I met the Living Stones. Their faith is ancient and rock solid. In their eyes, I saw the wisdom of Christ; in their hearts, the love of Christ; in their spirits, the peace of Christ. I returned from the Holy Land with my bags filled with the weight of many ancient stones. I expected that. What I had not anticipated was returning home with a heart filled with Living Stones.  These Stones are not a weight, but a joy that lifts my spirit and brings a smile to my heart.” More >>

 

David Guthrie, moderator of Plymouth Church in downtown Seattle, Washington, is inspired by the Sea of Galilee during a 2005 pilgrimage:

Various

Pilgrims dipping their toes in the Sea of Galilee (Seetheholyland.net)

“I simply cannot put into words how inspired I was to see, feel, and wiggle my toes in the Sea of Galilee. Just to imagine this was once the stumping ground of Jesus and his disciples. This was where Jesus fed the thousands with the miracle of the loaves and fish. This was where Jesus walked on water, called Peter, James and John, told them to cast down net even after fishing nothing for all night, pronounced Peter as the head of the Church, and fed them breakfast after the resurrection.” More >>

 

Pilgrimage leader Günther Simmermacher, editor of The Southern Cross newspaper in Cape Town, South Africa, reflects on being a pilgrim during a 2006 visit to the Holy Land:

“At its core, a pilgrimage is a journey to God. But even as all pilgrims share a common itinerary, each one’s route takes unique twists and turns. Graces can be found at unexpected moments: through an accident, a bidding prayer, a sudden spiritual emotion, a moment of illumination, a poignant homily, the experience of receiving the Body of Christ in a special place, in sharing moments with fellow pilgrims who only days before were perfect strangers, even in the vexing snores of a roommate.” More >>

Various

Olive trees on the Judean Hills (© Israel Ministry of Tourism)

 

New Zealand author Joy Cowley, during a pilgrimage in 2007, discovers a new dimension to the Holy Land:

“Christians in Israel call the Holy Land ‘the Fifth Gospel’. They say that Jesus speaks through the landscape, thus opening up the other four Gospels. We found this true in ways we’d not expected.” More >>

 

Heather Zempel, pastor of discipleship at National Community Church in Washington, DC, describes “The Lost Art of Pilgrimage” following a visit to the Holy Land in 2009:

“Two Presbyterians, an Episcopalian, a Lutheran, a Baptist, and a rapper named SaulPaul board a plane —sounds like the beginning of a bad joke, doesn’t it? And yet my travels with this eclectic band of sojourners may have forever changed the trajectory of my own faith journey . . . . Everywhere I travelled, I was drawn into the massive adventure that God is writing. I was overwhelmed by the magnitude of the Story, but I was also able to ponder my role in God’s epic, and I can pass my own tales of spiritual journey to the next generation.” More >>

Various

Pilgrims on the Via Dolorosa (Seetheholyland.net)

 

Thomas F. Jones, Jr, executive director of Stadia: New Church Strategies, a national church planting organisation in the United States, records his impressions on a 2010 pilgrimage:

“Like pilgrims since the time of Constantine, we travelled to the Holy Land to experience a renewed call to discipleship by walking in the footsteps of Jesus. We visited places like Capernaum, Mount of Beatitudes, Tabgha, Caesarea Philippi, Nazareth, Bethlehem, the Old City of Jerusalem, Stations of the Cross on the Via Dolorosa, Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Temple Mount, Jordan River, Mount of Olives, Gethsemane, Garden Tomb, and the Dead Sea. We visited these holy sites with our spiritual eyes and ears open, expecting that Jesus would meet us in fresh and new ways, and indeed he did.” More >>

Older Posts »

Churches in the Holy Land

Eastern Orthodox

Oriental Orthodox

Eastern Catholic

Roman Catholic

Anglican/Protestant/Evangelical

More than a score of Christian churches and denominations have a presence in the Holy Land — not always co-existing in harmony. In fact the scandal of the disunity of Christians is perhaps more evident in the land where the Church began than anywhere else on earth.

In the early centuries, when the Judaeo-Christian Church was still one and undivided, its expansion required organising into geographic units. Bishops of important centres became known as patriarchs — the title accorded Old Testament leaders such as Abraham.

The earliest patriarchates were Antioch (where the name “Christian” was first used), Alexandria and Rome, with Rome (the see of Peter) accorded primacy of honour. Each brought its own culture and traditions to its church-community.

Two more patriarchates, Constantinople and Jerusalem (the “Mother Church”), were later recognised, with Constantinople eventually being accorded second place after Rome. All were Greek-speaking except for Latin-speaking Rome.

Holy Land Christians

Church leaders of East and West at an ecumenical meeting (© Custodia Terrae Sanctae)

From the 4th century, theological disagreements arose over the nature of Christ. Often exacerbated by political and social tensions, these led the Assyrian Church of the East and what we know as the Oriental Orthodox churches (Armenian, Coptic, Ethiopian, Syriac) to break away. They are still not in communion with either Constantinople or Rome.

In the 11th century, long-standing disputes between the Eastern (Greek) and Western (Latin) branches of Christianity incited the Great Schism between Eastern Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism.

From the 16th century, groups within several Oriental and Eastern Orthodox churches re-established communion with the Roman Catholic Church. These became the Eastern Catholic churches.

The 16th century also saw dissent within the Western (Roman) Church spark the Protestant Reformation, resulting in a multitude of new denominations.

The main Christian groupings in the Holy Land today are Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Eastern Catholic, Roman (Latin) Catholic and Evangelical or Protestant.

Eastern Orthodox

Holy Land Christians

Greek Orthodox procession in Jerusalem (© Deror Avi)

Greek Orthodox form the largest Christian church in the Holy Land, their patriarch claiming direct descent from St James, the first bishop of Jerusalem.

Leadership in Israel is predominantly expatriate Greek, with married parish clergy and mainly Arab laity (in Jordan and Syria the leadership is largely Arab).

The Greek Orthodox holds major rights to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem and the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.

The community’s St John the Baptist Church on Christian Quarter Road is one of the oldest in Jerusalem, built originally in the 5th century, and today below street level.

Russian Orthodox pilgrims from Russia visited the Holy Land from the 11th century, but the church did not establish its own institutions in Palestine until the 19th century, when an area now known as the Russian Compound on the Jaffa Road was developed.

Holy Land Christians

Russian Church of St Mary Magdalene (Seetheholyland.net)

The Russian Revolution of 1917 ended pilgrimages from Russia and also led to a Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia, in opposition to the Orthodox Moscow Patriarchate. The two churches signed an act of canonical communion in 2007.

The best-known property of the Church Outside Russia is the onion-domed Church of St Mary Magdalene on the Mount of Olives. The main Moscow Patriarchate church is the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity in the Russian Compound.

Romanian Orthodox, with their headquarters in Bucharest, established themselves in Jerusalem in 1935. The interior of their church, St George’s, at 46 Shivtei Israel Street, outside the Old City, is covered with frescoes in neo-Byzantine style.

A small number of clergy look after a big number of Romanian guest workers in Israel.

Oriental Orthodox

Holy Land Christians

Armenian Orthodox ceremony in Church of the Holy Sepulchre (Seetheholyland.net)

Armenian Orthodox form the world’s oldest national church, since Armenia was the first nation to adopt Christianity as a state religion, in AD 301.

Large numbers came to Jerusalem, where they claim the longest uninterrupted Christian presence. The Armenian Quarter occupies about one-sixth of the Old City.

St James’s Cathedral, in Armenian Orthodox Patriarchate Road, is on the site of the original church built over the place where the Armenians believe the head of the apostle James the Great is buried.

The community holds dearly to the memory of the genocide of more than a million Armenians by Ottoman Turks at the time of the First World War.

Holy Land Christians

Entrance to St Mark’s Syriac Orthodox Church (Seetheholyland.net)

Syriac Orthodox trace their church back to first-century Antioch (in present-day Turkey) and claim the apostle St Peter as their first patriarch in AD 37. Before going to Rome, Peter served seven years in Antioch.

The word “Syriac” is not a geographic indicator, but refers to the use of the Syriac Aramaic language, a dialect of the tongue Jesus spoke in first-century Palestine, in worship.

The Syriac Orthodox (often called “Jacobites”, after an early bishop) believe their St Mark’s Church is on the site of the Last Supper and the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Their Patriarch of Antioch is based in Damascus.

Holy Land Christians

Coptic Orthodox chapel in Church of the Holy Sepuchre (James Emery)

Coptic Orthodox make up the largest Christian church in the Middle East, founded in Alexandria by the evangelist St Mark. Their leader, with the title of pope, is in Egypt. The liturgy is in Coptic, the ancient language of Egypt, with readings in Arabic.

The Jerusalem patriarchate and St Antony’s Church are close to the Ninth Station of the Via Dolorosa. The Coptic Orthodox also have a tiny chapel at the back of the Tomb of Christ in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

Ethiopian Orthodox trace their connection to Jerusalem back 1000 years before Christ, when the Ethiopian Queen of Sheba visited King Solomon (1 Kings 10:1-13, 2 Chronicles 9:1-12). She embraced his Jewish faith — and apparently Solomon too, since tradition credits them with a son named Menelik, who became emperor of Ethiopia.

Christianity is believed to have been introduced into Ethiopia by the eunuch finance minister of Queen Candace who came to Jerusalem to worship and was baptised by the apostle Philip (Acts 8:26-40).

Holy Land Christians

Queen of Sheba bringing gifts to Solomon, in Ethiopian Orthodox chapel (© Deror Avi)

The Ethiopian Orthodox retain some Jewish practices, including circumcision, and use freshly-baked bread for Communion.

Their biggest church in Jerusalem is the circular Dabra Gannat Monastery on Ethiopia Street, just off Prophet’s Street. They also occupy two chapels in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and a mud-hut village on its roof.

Eastern Catholic

Greek Catholics, known as Melkites (a word meaning “royalist”), form the second largest Christian church in the Holy Land — after the Greek Orthodox, whose Byzantine liturgy they share. Their Patriarch of Antioch is in Damascus.

Holy Land Christians

Street sign for Greek Catholic Patriarchate Road (Yoav Dothan / Wikimedia)

This Arab church has big numbers in the Galilee region and a small community in Jerusalem.

The fresco-covered patriarchate Church of the Annunciation, inside the Jaffa Gate and up Greek Catholic Patriachate Road, is described in the Living Stones Pilgrimage guidebook as “arguably the most representative Byzantine church in Jerusalem and . . . perhaps the best place to introduce yourself to Orthodox places of worship”.

Within the patriarchate building is a museum of Eastern Church traditions in the Holy Land (open 9am-12pm daily, except Sunday).

Chaldean Catholics separated from the Church of the East (also known as the Nestorian Church) in 1552. Most members are in Iraq (where they are the largest Christian church) and Iran, with a refugee Iraqi community in Jordan and emigrant communities as far away as Australia and New Zealand.

Holy Land Christians

Chaldean Catholic refugees in Jordan (© Tasher Bahoo / Wikimedia)

The patriarchal seat is in Baghdad. In Jerusalem the patriarchal exarchate is at 7 Chaldean Street (off Nablus Road).

Syriac Catholics broke away from the Syriac Orthodox Church and have been in communion with Rome since the 1780s. They also trace their origins to the See of Antioch established by St Peter and retain much of the liturgy (in Aramaic) of their Orthodox counterpart.

Their Patriarch of Antioch is in Beirut. The Jerusalem patriarchal exarchate Church of St Thomas is at 2 Chaldean Street (off Nablus Road).

Armenian Catholics, who separated from the Armenian Orthodox Church, have been in communion with Rome since 1742. They have kept much of the Orthodox liturgy (in classical Armenian) and, like the Armenian Orthodox, suffered in the genocide by Ottoman Turks during the First World War.

Their headquarters is in Bzoummar, Lebanon. The Jerusalem patriarchal exarchate is at the Third Station of the Cross on the Via Dolorosa.

Holy Land Christians

St Maron, who gave the Maronite Catholics their name

Maronite Catholics, the largest Christian community in Lebanon, form the only Eastern church which has always been Roman Catholic, without an Orthodox counterpart.

Founded by St Maron, a 5th-century Syrian hermit, they use Aramaic in their worship and their patriarch is in Beirut. Their membership base in the Holy Land is in Galilee, which is just south of Lebanon.

The patriarchal vicariate is in the Old City on Maronite Convent Road, Jaffa Gate.

Roman Catholic

A Latin patriarchate was established in Jerusalem in 1099, 46 years after the East-West schism, during the Crusades. When the Crusaders were routed 90 years later, the Latin hierarchy fled the Holy Land.

Holy Land Christians

Franciscan friars in a Jerusalem market (© Custodia Terrae Sanctae)

In 1342 Pope Clement VI gave the custodianship of the holy places to the Franciscan order, whose founder, St Francis of Assisi, had visited the Holy Land in 1219-20.

The brown-robed Franciscans are still a familiar feature of the Holy Land, caring for holy places and active in parishes, schools and social works. Their Custody of the Holy Land is based at St Saviour’s Monastery on St Francis Street, New Gate, where St Saviour’s Church is the only Latin parish church in the Old City. They also retain possession of some chapels in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

Holy Land Christians

Congregation in St Saviour’s Church (© Custodia Terrae Sanctae)

About 100 other Roman Catholic religious orders (70 of women and 30 of men) serve in the Holy Land.

In 1847 Pope Pius IX re-established a Latin patriarchate in Jerusalem, with headquarters in Latin Patriarchate Road. Latin-rite Catholics are predominantly Palestinian Arabs (as is the patriarch), though their numbers have been boosted by migrant workers from Asia and Latin America.

Since the mid-1950s there has also been a Hebrew-speaking Catholic community — including convert Jews, Catholic spouses of Jews, and immigrants who have assimilated into the Hebrew-speaking society — which now has its own patriarchal vicar.

Anglican/Protestant/Evangelical

The Anglican and Lutheran churches jointly set up a Jerusalem-based diocese for the Middle East in 1841, though this joint missionary venture ended in 1886. Today both churches have separate bishops (both Palestinian Arabs).

The Anglicans, usually referred to as “Evangelicals” or “Episcopals”, have St George’s Cathedral on Nablus Road, with both Arab and expatriate congregations. St George’s College, a continuing education centre, is within the cathedral compound.

Until the cathedral opened, the bishop’s seat was Christ Church, near the Jaffa Gate in the Old City. The first Protestant church in the Holy Land when it was completed in 1849, it serves Messianic Jews among its charismatic congregation.

Holy Land Christians

Hebrew-inscribed altar in Christ Church (Ian W. Scott)

Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany built the Church of the Redeemer in Muristan Road for the Lutherans and personally dedicated it in 1898.

The church has Arabic, German, English and Danish congregations, and its tall bell tower offers an overview of the Old City.

Several other Reformed churches are established in the Holy Land. They include Baptist, Christian and Missionary Alliance, Christian Brethren, Church of God, Church of the Nazarene, Church of Scotland (Presbyterian), King of Kings Assembly, Pentecostal and Seventh-Day Adventist communities. Most evangelical Protestant churches are not recognised by the state of Israel.

Among those who identify as Jewish there are groups of Messianic Christians whose theology is conservatively evangelical and whose politics is predominantly Zionist, seeing the modern state of Israel as a fulfilment of biblical prophecies.

Related articles:

Inside an Eastern church

The Holy Land’s Christians

How to contact churches in Jerusalem

PHOTO CREDITS: Where the images above are not created by Seetheholyland.net, links to the sources can be found on our Attributions Page.

 

References

Bailey, Betty Jane and J. Martin: Who Are the Christians in the Middle East? (William B. Eerdmans, 2010)
Bausch, William J.: Pilgrim Church: A Popular History of Catholic Christianity (Twenty-Third Publications, 1993)
Caffulli, Giuseppe: “Jordan’s Christians: A Living Force” (Holy Land Review, Winter 2010)
Cragg, Kenneth: The Arab Christian: A History in the Middle East (Westminster/John Knox, 1991)
Doyle, Stephen: The Pilgrim’s New Guide to the Holy Land (Liturgical Press, 1990)
Eber, Shirley, and O’Sullivan, Kevin: Israel and the Occupied Territories: The Rough Guide (Harrap-Columbus, 1989)
Faris, John D.: “Peter’s First See” (CNEWA World, March-April 2003)
Hilliard, Alison, and Bailey, Betty Jane: Living Stones Pilgrimage: With the Christians of the Holy Land (Cassell, 1999)
McCormick, James R.: Jerusalem and the Holy Land: The first ecumenical pilgrim’s guide (Rhodes & Eaton, 1997)
Macpherson, Duncan (ed.): A Third Millennium Guide to Pilgrimage to the Holy Land (Melisende, 2000)
Marchadour, Alain, and Neuhaus, David: The Land, the Bible and History: Toward the Land That I Will Show You (Fordham University Press, 2007)
Pentin, Edward: “Leading Efforts to Keep Christians in Holy Land” (Holy Land Review, Spring 2009)

 

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Bibliography

Filed under: Extras — 4:43 pm

Books and articles referred to are listed here. Those relevant to particular articles are listed at the end of each article.

BOOKS

Bagatti, Bellarmino: Ancient Christian Villages of Galilee (Studium Biblicum Franciscanum, 1999)
Bailey, Betty Jane and J. Martin: Who Are the Christians in the Middle East? (William B. Eerdmans, 2010)
Baldwin, David: The Holy Land: A Pilgrim’s Companion (Catholic Truth Society, 2007)
Bar-Am, Aviva: Beyond the Walls: Churches of Jerusalem (Ahva Press, 1998)
Bausch, William J.: Pilgrim Church: A Popular History of Catholic Christianity (Twenty-Third Publications, 1993)
Beitzel, Barry J.: Biblica, The Bible Atlas: A Social and Historical Journey Through the Lands of the Bible (Global Book Publishing, 2007)
Benelli, Carla, and Saltini, Tommaso (eds): The Holy Sepulchre: The Pilgrim’s New Guide (Franciscan Printing Press, 2011)
Blaiklock, E. M.: Eight Days in Israel (Ark Publishing, 1980)
Bourbon, Fabio, and Lavagno, Enrico: The Holy Land Archaeological Guide to Israel, Sinai and Jordan (White Star, 2009)
Bourbon, Fabio: Yesterday and Today: The Holy Land: Lithographs and Diaries by David Roberts, R.A. (Swan Hill, 1997)
Bowker, John: The Complete Bible Handbook (Dorling Kindersley, 1998)
Bradley, Ian: Pilgrimage: A spiritul and cultural journey (Lion, 2009)
Brisco, Thomas: Holman Bible Atlas (Broadman and Holman, 1998)
Brownrigg, Ronald: Come, See the Place: A Pilgrim Guide to the Holy Land (Hodder and Stoughton, 1985)
Burckhardt, Johann Ludwig: Travels in Syria and the Holy Land (John Murray, 1822)
Burgon, John William: Petra, a prize poem (Oxford, 1845)
Charlesworth, James H.: The Millennium Guide for Pilgrims to the Holy Land (BIBAL Press, 2000)
Cohen, Daniel: The Holy Land of Jesus (Doko Media, 2008)
Cohen, Raymond: Saving the Holy Sepulchre: How Rival Christians Came Together to Rescue their Holiest Shrine (Oxford University Press, 2008)
Cox, Ronald: The Gospel Story (CYM Publications, 1950)
Cragg, Kenneth: The Arab Christian: A History in the Middle East (Westminster/John Knox, 1991)
Crowe, David M.: Oskar Schindler: The Untold Account of his Life, Wartime Activities, and the True Story Behind the List (Westview Press, 2004)
De Sandoli, Sabino: Emmaus-el Qubeibe (Franciscan Printing Press, 1980)
Donner, Herbert: The Mosaic Map of Madaba: an introductory guide (Kok Pharos, 1992)
Doyle, Stephen: The Pilgrim’s New Guide to the Holy Land (Liturgical Press, 1990)
Dyer, Charles H., and Hatteberg, Gregory A.: The New Christian Traveler’s Guide to the Holy Land (Moody, 2006)
Eber, Shirley, and O’Sullivan, Kevin: Israel and the Occupied Territories: The Rough Guide (Harrap-Columbus, 1989)
Freeman-Grenville, G. S. P.: The Holy Land: A Pilgrim’s Guide to Israel, Jordan and the Sinai (Continuum Publishing, 1996)
Garrard, Alec: The Splendor of the Temple (Angus Hudson, 2000)
Giroud, Sabri, and others, trans. by Carol Scheller-Doyle and Walid Shomali: Palestine and Palestinians (Alternative Tourism Group, 2008)
Gonen, Rivka: Biblical Holy Places: An illustrated guide (Collier Macmillan, 1987)
Goulburn, Edward Meyrick: John William Burgon, late Dean of Chichester: a biography, volume 1 (J. Murray, 1892)
Haddad, Fadi Shawkat: A Christian Pilgrimage Journey in Jordan (published by author, PO Box 135, Amman 11733, 2015)
Hilliard, Alison, and Bailey, Betty Jane: Living Stones Pilgrimage: With the Christians of the Holy Land (Cassell, 1999)
Hoffman, Lawrence A.: Israel: A Spiritual Travel Guide (Jewish Lights Publishing, 1998)
Inman, Nick, and McDonald, Ferdie (eds): Jerusalem & the Holy Land (Eyewitness Travel Guide, Dorling Kindersley, 2007)
Irving, Sarah: Palestine (Bradt Travel Guides, 2011)
Josephus, Flavius: The Jewish War, trans. William Whiston (Kregel, Baker, 1960)
Kauffmann, Joel: The Nazareth Jesus Knew (Nazareth Village, 2005)
Keneally, Thomas: Schindler’s Ark (Hodder and Stoughton, 1982)
Kilgallen, John J.: A New Testament Guide to the Holy Land (Loyola Press, 1998)
Kochav, Sarah: Israel: A Journey Through the Art and History of the Holy Land (Steimatzky, 2008)
Lofenfeld Winkler, Lea, and Frenkel, Ramit: The Boat and the Sea of Galilee(Gefen Publishing House, 2010)
Losch, Richard R.: The Uttermost Part of the Earth: A guide to places in the Bible (Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2005)
Mackowski, Richard M.: Jerusalem: City of Jesus (William B. Eerdmans, 1980)
Macpherson, Duncan (ed.): A Third Millennium Guide to Pilgrimage to the Holy Land (Melisende, 2000)
McCormick, James R.: Jerusalem and the Holy Land: The first ecumenical pilgrim’s guide (Rhodes & Eaton, 1997)
Maier, Paul L. (trans.): Eusebius: The Church History (Kregel Publications, 2007)
Maier, Paul L. (trans.): Josephus: The Essential Writings (Kregel Publications, 1988)
Marchadour, Alain, and Neuhaus, David: The Land, the Bible and History: Toward the Land That I Will Show You (Fordham University Press, 2007)
Martin, James: A Pilgrim’s Guide to the Holy Land (Westminster Press, 1978)
Metzger, Bruce M., and Coogan, Michael D.: The Oxford Companion to the Bible (Oxford University Press, 1993)
Meyers, Carol L., Craven, Toni, and Kraemer, Ross S. (eds): Women in Scripture: A Dictionary of Named and Unnamed Women in the Hebrew Bible, the Apocryphal/Deuterocanonical Books and New Testament (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2001)
Millgram, Abraham Ezra: Jerusalem Curiosities (Jewish Publication Society, 1990)
Murphy-O’Connor, Jerome: Keys to Jerusalem (Oxford University Press, 2012)
Murphy-O’Connor, Jerome: The Holy Land: An Oxford Archaeological Guide from Earliest Times to 1700 (Oxford University Press, 2005)
Nicholson, Peter C.: The Churches of Antonio Barluzzi (The McCabe Educational Trust)
Notley, R. Steven: Jerusalem: City of the Great King (Carta Jerusalem, 2015)
Pearlman, Moshe: Digging up the Bible: The stories behind the great archaeological discoveries in the Holy Land (William Morrow, 1980)
Piccirillo, M., Alliata, E. (ed.): Mount Nebo. New Archaeological Excavations 1967-1997 (Franciscan Printing Press, 1998)
Pixner, Bargil: With Jesus in Jerusalem – his First and Last Days in Judea (Corazin Publishing, 1996)
Pixner, Bargil: With Jesus Through Galilee According to the Fifth Gospel (Corazin Publishing, 1992)
Prag, Kay: Israel & the Palestinian Territories: Blue Guide (A. & C. Black, 2002)
Prag, Kay: Jerusalem: Blue Guide (A. & C. Black, 1989)
Rainey, Anson F., and Notley, R. Steven: The Sacred Bridge: Carta’s Atlas of the Biblical World (Carta, 2006)
Rossing, Daniel: Between Heaven and Earth: Churches and monasteries of the Holy Land (Penn Publishing, 2012)
Saltini, Tommaso (ed.): Sabastiya — The fruits of history and the memory of John the Baptist (ATS Pro Terra Sancta exhibition catalogue, 2011)
Samet, Inbal: Megiddo National Park (Israel Nature and Parks Authority leaflet)
Schaiek. Z.: The Sea of Galilee (Palphot, 1997?)
Shahin, Mariam, and Azar, George: Palestine: A guide (Chastleton Travel, 2005)
Shanks, Hershel (ed.): Partings: How Judaism and Christianity Became Two (Biblical Archaeology Society, 2013)
Simmermacher, Günther: The Holy Land Trek: A Pilgrim’s Guide (Southern Cross Books, 2012)
Storme, Albert: Gethsemane (Franciscan Printing Press, 1970)
Sussman, Ayala, and Peled, Ruth: The Dead Sea Scrolls (Israel Antiquities Authority and Israel Museum Products, 1994)
The New Jerusalem Bible (Darton, Longman & Todd, 1990)
The New Revised Standard Version Bible (Thomas Nelson, 1993)
Thiede, Carsten Peter: The Emmaus Mystery: Discovering Evidence for the Risen Christ (Continuum International, 2006)
Twain, Mark: The Innocents Abroad (Wordsworth, 2010)
Vamosh, Miriam Feinberg: Beit She’an: Capital of the Decapolis (Israel Nature and National Parks Protection Authority, 1996)
Walker, Peter: In the Steps of Jesus (Zondervan, 2006)
Wareham, Norman, and Gill, Jill: Every Pilgrim’s Guide to the Holy Land (Canterbury Press, 1996)

ARTICLES

Alliata, Eugenio, OFM: “Archaeological Excavations at Cana of Galilee”, Holy Land, summer 2004
Anonymous: “Christian Mount Sion”, Holy Land, spring 2003
Anonymous: “Griechisch-Katholisch-Melkitisches Patriarchat” (Greek Catholic Patriarchate leaflet, undated)
Anonymous: “The Dead Sea”, Holy Land, summer 2005
Anonymous: “The Monastery of the Twelve Apostles” (Greek Orthodox Church leaflet, undated)
Anonymous: “Mary Leads us to Jesus” (Association Marie de Nazareth brochure, undated)
Ashkenazi, Eli: “Two-year fishing ban cut down to four-month annual break”, Haaretz, February 16, 2011
Bagatti, Bellarmino: “ ‘Footprints’ of the Saviour on the Mount of Olives”, Holy Land, winter 2005
Bahat, Dan: “Does the Holy Sepulchre Church Mark the Burial of Jesus?”, Biblical Archaeology Review, May-June 1986
Bahat, Dan: “Jerusalem Down Under: Tunneling Along Herod’s Temple Mount Wall”, Biblical Archaeological Review, November/December 1995
Basile, Joseph J. “When People Lived at Petra”, Biblical Archaeology Review, July/August 2000
Bastier, Claire, and Halloun, Nizar: “Restoration: Revealing the glories of the Basilica of the Nativity in Bethlehem”, Holy Land Review, winter 2016
Bechtel, F.: “Bethsaida”, The Catholic Encyclopedia (Robert Appleton Company, 1914)
Bellarmino Bagatti: “Nain of the Gospel”, Holy Land, summer 2001
Bikai, Patricia Maynor: “The Churches of Byzantine Petra”, Near Eastern Archaeology, December 2002
Bouwen, Frans: “St Anne’s Church and the Pool of Bethesda”, Cornerstone, spring 2000
Burkeman, Oliver, and Aris, Ben: “Biographer Takes Shine off Spielberg’s Schindler”, The Guardian, November 25, 2004
Caffulli, Giuseppe: “Jerash, Pompeii of the East”, Holy Land Review, spring 2010
Caffulli, Giuseppe: “Jordan’s Christians: A Living Force”, Holy Land Review, Winter 2010
Caffulli, Giuseppe: “Precious Fragrances”, Holy Land Review, Spring 2009
Chabin, Michele: “Church of the Nativity’s Face-Lift Reveals Ancient Treasures”, National Catholic Register, June 15, 2016
Chadwick, Jeffrey R.: “Discovering Hebron: the City of the Patriarchs Slowly Yields Its Secrets”, Biblical Archaeology Review, September/October 2005
Chancey, Mark, and Meyers, Eric M.: “Spotlight on Sepphoris: How Jewish was Sepphoris in Jesus’ Time?”, Biblical Archaeology Review, July/August 2000
Cignelli, Lino: “Our Lady’s Tomb in the Apocrypha”, Holy Land, spring 2005
Corbett, Joey: “New Synagogue Excavations In Israel and Beyond”, Biblical Archaeological Review, July/August 2011
Daniel W. Casey, Jr, “House of the Fishers”, Holy Land, autumn 1997
Dark, Ken: “Has Jesus’ Nazareth House Been Found?”, Biblical Archaeology Review, March-April 2015
Dillon, Edward: “The Sanctuaries at Gethsemane”, Holy Land, spring 1998
Faris, John D.: “Peter’s First See”, CNEWA World, March-April 2003
Finkelstein, Israel: “In the Eye of Jerusalem’s Archaeological Storm”, Forward, May 6, 2011
Finkelstein, Israel, and Ussishkin, David: “Back to Megiddo”, Biblical Archaeology Review, January/February 1994
Fletcher, Elaine Ruth: “Searching for the site of Jesus’ Baptism”, Religion News Service, January 1, 2000
Fortescue, Adrian: “Jerusalem (AD 71-1099)”, The Catholic Encyclopedia (Robert Appleton Company, 1910)
Frumkin, Amos: “How Lot’s Wife Became a Pillar of Salt”, Biblical Archaeology Review, May/June 2009
Hadid, Diaa: “Risk of Collapse at Jesus’ Tomb Unites Rival Christians”, The New York Times, April 6, 2016
Gochis, Djinna, and Michaels, Christine: “Mysterious Petra Rediscovered”, Catholic Near East Magazine, fall 1978
Goldfus, H., et al.: “The significance of geomorphological and soil formation research for understanding the unfinished Roman ramp at Masada”, Catena, 2016
Hasson, Nir: “Digging completed on tunnel under Old City walls in East Jerusalem”, Haaretz, January 25, 2011
Hasson, Nir: “Jerusalem’s time tunnels”, Haaretz, April 24, 2011
Herman, Danny: “Who Moved the Ladder?”, Biblical Archaeology Review, January/February 2010
Hoppe, Leslie: “Holy Land – Holy People”, Holy Land, spring 1999
Hoppe, Leslie: “The Dome of the Rock”, Holy Land, summer 1999
Israel Antiquities Authority: “A Residential Building from the Time of Jesus was Exposed in the Heart of Nazareth”, media release, December 23, 2009
Jacobson, David: “Sacred Geometry: Unlocking the Secret of the Temple Mount”, Biblical Archaeological Review, July/August and September/October 1999
Jeffay, Nathan, and Singh, Anita: “Fishing banned on the Sea of Galilee”, The Telegraph, April 3, 2010
Joseph, Frederick: “Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth”, Holy Land, spring 2005
Joseph, Frederick: “Bethlehem”, Holy Land, winter 2002
Joseph, Frederick: “Caesarea”, Holy Land, winter 2004
Kershner, Isabel: “A Rare Middle East Agreement, on Water”, New York Times, December 9, 2013
Khouri, Rami: “Where John Baptized: Bethany Beyond the Jordan”, Exploring Jordan: The Other Biblical Land (Biblical Archaeology Society, 2008)
Kloetzli, Godfrey: “Jericho”, Holy Land, summer 2004
Kloetzli, Godfrey: “Ain Karim”, Holy Land, winter 2003
Laney, J. Carl: “The Identification of Bethany Beyond the Jordan”, from Selective Geographical Problems in the Life of Christ, doctoral dissertation (Dallas Theological Seminary, 1977)
Laney, J. Carl: “The Identification of Emmaus”, from Selective Geographical Problems in the Life of Christ, doctoral dissertation (Dallas Theological Seminary, 1977)
Lefkovits, Etgar: “Second temple model to link history, archaeology”, Jerusalem Post, May 25, 2006
Lidman, Melanie: “As the Dead Sea dries, its collapsing shores force a return to nature”, Times of Israel, February 13, 2017
Loffreda, Stanislao: “Capharnaum”, Holy Land, summer and autumn, 2002
Maas, Anthony: “The Blessed Virgin Mary”, The Catholic Encyclopedia (Robert Appleton Company, 1912)
Mancini, Ignatius: “New Archaeological Discoveries at Cana of Galilee”, Holy Land, autumn 1998
Manns, Frédéric: “Stones of Memory”, Holy Land Review, winter 2017
Martin, George: “The Melkites of Jerusalem”, Catholic Near East, November-December 1995
Maugh, Thomas H. II: “Biblical Pool Uncovered in Jerusalem”, Los Angeles Times, August 9, 2005
Mazar, Eilat: “Temple Mount Excavations Unearth the Monastery of the Virgins”, Biblical Archaeology Review, May/June 2004
Meistermann, Barnabas: “Naim”, The Catholic Encyclopedia (Robert Appleton Company, 1911)
Merk, August: “Magdala”, The Catholic Encyclopedia (Robert Appleton Company, 1910)
Meyer, Gabriel: “The Temple and the Lord”, Holy Land Review, winter 2010
Miller, Charles: “Bethany Beyond the Jordan”, CNEWA World, January 2002
Milne, Mary K.: “Rose-Red City, Half as Old as Time”, CNEWA World, September/October 2002
Miriam Simon: “Jerusalem’s Glory Days”, Eretz, September-October 2006
Nun, Mendel: “Cast Your Net Upon the Waters: Fish and Fishermen in Jesus’ Time”, Biblical Archaeology Review, November/December 1993
Nun, Mendel: “Ports of Galilee”, Biblical Archaeology Review, July/August 1999
Pentin, Edward: “Leading Efforts to Keep Christians in Holy Land”, Holy Land Review, Spring 2009
Petrozzi, Maria Teresa: “The Nativity Grotto”, Holy Land, winter 1997
Petrozzi, Maria Tereza: “The Place of Mary’s Dormition”, Holy Land, spring 2005
Pfann, Stephen; Voss, Ross; and Rapuano, Yehudah: “Surveys and Excavations at the Nazareth Village Farm (1997–2002): Final Report”, Bulletin of the Anglo-Israel Archaeological Society, volume 25 (2007)
Piccirillo, Michele: “The Madaba Mosaic Map”, Holy Land, winter 2002
Pierri, Rosario: “The Emmaus Enigma”, Holy Land Review, spring 2010
Pixner, Bargil: “Church of Apostles found on Mt Zion”, Biblical Archaeological Review, May/June 1990
Poni, Shachar: “Renovating Royal Tomb”, The Jewish Voice, February 5, 2010
Porath, Yosef: “Caesarea: Herod and Beyond: Vegas on the Med.”, Biblical Archaeology Review, September/October 2004
Powers, Tom: “The Church of the Holy Sepulchre: Some perspectives from history, geography, architecture, archaeology and the New Testament”, Artifax, Autumn 2004-Spring 2005
Reich, Ronny, and Zapata Meza, Marcela: “A Preliminary Report on the Miqwa’ot of Migdal”, Israel Exploration Journal, vol. 64, no. 1, 2014
Ritmeyer, Leen: “Locating the Original Temple Mount”, Biblical Archaeological Review, March/April 1992
Ritmeyer, Leen and Kathleen: “Potter’s Field or High Priest’s Tomb”, Biblical Archaeology Review, November/December 1994
Rubenstein, Danny: “A Sign Points to the Grave”, Haaretz, July 19, 2007
Saltet, Louis: “St. Jerome”: The Catholic Encyclopedia (Robert Appleton Company, 1910)
Shanks, Hershel: “Major New Excavation Planned for Mary Magdalene’s Hometown”, Biblical Archaeology Review, September/October 2007
Shenton, Della: “Go now to Bethlehem”, The Tablet, London, December 16, 2006
Smith, David: “Where it happened”, The Jerusalem Post Christian Edition, December 2007
Smith, Dinitia: “A Scholar’s Book Adds Layers of Complexity to the Schindler Legend”, The New York Times, November 24, 2004
Starkey, Denis: “The White Fathers in Jerusalem”, White Fathers — White Sisters, April-May 1999
Stiles, Wayne: “Sights and Insights: Last stop and a point of departure”, Jerusalem Post, May 26, 2011
Stiles, Wayne: “Sights and Insights: The oldest part of J’lem”, Jerusalem Post, February 27, 2012
Stiles, Wayne: “Sights and Insights: Where happy explorers go to dig”, Jerusalem Post, May 30, 2011
Storme, Albert: “Bethany”, Holy Land, winter 2000 and summer 2003
Strange, James F., and Shanks, Hershel: “Synagogue Where Jesus Preached Found at Capernaum” and “Has the House Where Jesus Stayed in Capernaum Been Found?”, in The Galilee Jesus Knew, Biblical Archaeology Society, 2008
Tzaferis, Vassilios: “A Pilgrimage to the Site of the Swine Miracle”, Biblical Archaeology Review, March/April 1989
Tzaferis, Vassilios, “Inscribed ‘To God Jesus Christ’ ”, Biblical Archaeology Review, March/April 2007
Wachsmann, Shelley: “The Galilee Boat—2,000-Year-Old Hull Recovered Intact”, in The Galilee Jesus Knew, Biblical Archaeology Society, 2008
Waldocks, Ehud Zion: “Jordan River to run dry by next year”, Jerusalem Post, May 3, 2010
Ward, Bernard:  “Cana”, The Catholic Encyclopedia (Robert Appleton Company, 1908)
Waugh, Evelyn: “The Plight of the Holy Places”, Life, December 24, 1951
Weiss, Ze’ev. “The Sepphoris Synagogue Mosaic”, Biblical Archaeology Review, September/October 2000
Weiss, Ze’ev, and Tsuk, Tsvika: Zippori National Park (Israel Nature and Parks Authority leaflet)
West, Jane Cahill: “Jerusalem’s Stepped-Stone Structure”, in Ten Top Archaeological Discoveries, Biblical Archaeology Society, 2011
Woodfin, Warren T.: “The Holiest Ground in the World”, Biblical Archaeological Review, September/October 2000
Wooding, Dan: “Thousands visit Bethany Beyond the Jordan”, Assist News Service, January 15, 2007
Wright, J. Robert: “Holy Sepulchre”, Holy Land, spring 1998
Yonah, Bob: “Archaeologists find first proof of ancient Bethlehem”, Jerusalem Post, May 23, 2012
Yudin, Joe: “Off the Beaten Track: City of David”, Jerusalem Post, March 29, 2012

 

 

 

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Attributions

Filed under: Extras — 5:13 pm

Most of the images on this website have been created by Seetheholyland.net. Some others are in the public domain, while a number are shared under Creative Commons Licenses.

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Historical timeline

Filed under: Extras — 1:13 pm

Pre-Biblical and early Biblical times

BC

c. 7000: Jericho is a walled settlement

c. 5000-4000: Land of Canaan is occupied by Canaanites, then Amorites and Jebusites.

c. 2000: Founding patriarch Abraham and his tribe settle in what becomes Judea.

c. 1500: Abraham’s descendants, led by Joseph, settle in Egypt.

c. 1260: Moses leads Israelites in Exodus from Egypt.

c. 1200: Israelites under Joshua enter Promised Land.

c. 1000: David captures Jebusite city of Jerusalem and makes it his capital.

c. 970: Solomon builds First Temple.

Two kingdoms

c. 930: Israel splits into northern kingdom of Israel and southern kingdom of Judah (including Jerusalem).

c. 720: Northern kingdom conquered by Assyria and its 10 tribes sent into exile.

c. 700: Southern kingdom’s King Hezekiah cuts tunnel from Gihon Spring to Pool of Siloam.

701: Assyrians conquer much of southern kingdom; Jerusalem is besieged but survives.

597: Nebuchadnezzar II of Babylon captures southern kingdom and Jerusalem.

587: Following rebellion, Nebuchadnezzar destroys Jerusalem and First Temple, deporting most of population to Babylon (in present-day Iraq).

Persian rule

539: Cyrus the Great of Persia conquers Babylon and allows Jews to return from captivity.

515: Second Temple is completed.

444: Nehemiah rebuilds city walls of Jerusalem.

Hellenistic rule

332: Alexander the Great conquers Persian Empire, including all of Palestine.

323: Alexander dies and his kingdom is divided into four parts; Palestine falls under Ptolemaic Dynasty of Egypt, then under Seleucid Empire of Syria.

175: King Antiochus IV of Syria bans traditional Jewish practices and desecrates Temple.

167: Judas Maccabeus leads successful revolt against Seleucid Empire, rededicates Temple and restores religious freedom.

Hasmonean rule

140: Simon Maccabeus, a brother of Judas, establishes Hasmonean Dynasty, which rules an independent Jewish kingdom for 103 years.

63: Rivalry between Simon Maccabeus’ great-grandsons, Hyrcanus II and Aristobulus II, brings civil war that ends with Roman general Pompey controlling the kingdom.

37: Rome proclaims Herod as King of Israel, now a Roman client state, ending the Hasmonean Dynasty.

Roman rule

20: Herod expands Temple Mount and rebuilds Temple.

c. 6: Jesus Christ is born in Bethlehem.

4: Herod dies and his kingdom is divided among his sons, Philip, Antipas and Archelaus.

__________________________________________________________________________

AD

26: Pontius Pilate becomes procurator of Roman province of Judea.

c. 27: Jesus is baptised by his cousin John the Baptist and begins his public ministry.

c. 30: Jesus is condemned to death and crucified.

c. 32: Stephen, first Christian martyr, is stoned to death.

c. 34: Paul is converted on the way to Damascus.

41-44: Jerusalem’s “Third Wall” is built by King Agrippa I.

c. 50: Council of Jerusalem, first recorded council of Christian leaders, is held.

c. 45-120: Books of the New Testament are written.

67: During First Jewish-Roman War, Christians in Palestine flee to Pella in Jordan.

70: Romans destroy Jerusalem and Second Temple.

73: Masada falls to Romans.

130: Emperor Hadrian rebuilds Jerusalem, renaming it Aelia Capitolina, and puts pagan temple over site of the Crucifixion and Resurrection.

135: Hadrian crushes Second Jewish Revolt and expels Jews from Palestine.

301: Armenia becomes first nation to make Christianity its state religion.

313: Emperor Constantine I legalises Christianity.

325: At Council of Nicaea, Bishop Macarius of Jerusalem asks Constantine to reclaim site of crucifixion and Resurrection and build a church there.

326-7: Constantine’s mother, Helena, visits Holy Land, finds True Cross and orders churches built on sacred sites; large-scale pilgrimages begin.

Byzantine rule

330: Constantine moves his capital from Nicomedia to Byzantium (renamed Constantinople, now Istanbul).

335: Church of the Holy Sepulchre is consecrated.

380: Emperor Theodosius I makes Christianity the religion of the Roman Empire.

386-420: Jerome produces Vulgate translation of Bible in his Bethlehem cave.

395: Roman Empire splits into East and West.

c. 500: Jerusalem Talmud completed by rabbinic schools in Galilee.

570: Birth of Muhammad.

614: Persians capture Jerusalem, destroying many churches and burning Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

622: Muhammad escapes assassination in Mecca and flees to Medina, his flight marking first year of Islamic calendar.

629: Emperor Heraclius I re-establishes Byzantine rule in Jerusalem and recovers True Cross stolen by Persians.

Islamic rule

638: Islamic forces conquer Jerusalem, beginning rule by succession of Arab dynasties.

661-1000: Palestine variously ruled by Arab caliphs in Damascus, Baghdad and Cairo.

692: Dome of the Rock completed on Temple Mount.

1009: Sultan al-Hakim destroys Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

1048: Church of the Holy Sepulchre restored by Emperor Constantine Monomachus.

1054: Great Schism splits Christian Church into Eastern (Greek) and Western (Latin) branches.

1071: Seljuk Turks capture Jerusalem, persecuting Christians, desecrating churches and barring pilgrims.

Crusader rule

1099: First Crusade captures Jerusalem and establishes Latin kingdom; Dome of the Rock becomes church called Templum Domini (Temple of the Lord).

1149: New Church of the Holy Sepulchre completed.

1187: Sultan Saladin defeats Crusaders at Horns of Hattin above Sea of Galilee, then takes Jerusalem.

Islamic rule again

1219: St Francis of Assisi visits Egypt and meets Sultan Melek al-Kamil.

1229: During Sixth Crusade, Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II negotiates return of Jerusalem and other Christian sites to Crusader kingdom.

1229: Franciscans establish themselves in Jerusalem near Fifth Station of Via Dolorosa.

1244: Jerusalem is sacked by Khwarezmian Tartars; control quickly passes to Egyptian Ayyubids and then Mamluks, who rule until 1517.

1291: Crusaders’ last foothold, Acre, falls to Mamluks.

1342: Pope Clement VI formally establishes Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land.

Ottoman rule

1517: Ottoman Turks take control of Palestine from Mamluks.

1517: Martin Luther begins Protestant Reformation in Europe.

1538: Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent builds present walls of Old City of Jerusalem.

1757: Ottoman Turkish edicts give Greek Orthodox major possession of Church of the Holy Sepulchre and other holy places.

1808: Fire rages in Church of the Holy Sepulchre; Tomb of Christ is severely damaged when dome falls in.

1812: Swiss explorer Johann Ludwig Burckhardt rediscovers Nabatean city of Petra.

1839: British Jew Sir Moses Montefiore proposes idea of a modern Jewish state.

1842: First Anglican bishop of Jerusalem, Michael Solomon Alexander, a converted Jewish rabbi, arrives.

1849: Christ Church in Jerusalem, oldest Protestant church in Middle East, is built.

1852: Under pressure from Russia, Ottoman Sultan Abd-ul-Mejid directs that possession of holy places remains according to 1757 edict.

1853-56: Possession of holy places is one cause of Crimean War between Russia and major European powers.

1860: First Jewish immigrant neighbourhood outside Old City of Jerusalem is established, funded by Sir Moses Montefiore.

1878: “Status Quo” defining possession of holy places is incorporated into international law by Treaty of Berlin.

1883: General Charles Gordon proposes Skull Hill as Calvary and Garden Tomb as place where Christ was buried.

1884: Mosaic map of Holy Land discovered in floor of 6th-century church at Madaba, Jordan.

1909: Joseph Baratz and 11 others establish first kibbutz in Palestine, called Kvutzat Degania (“Wheat of God”), at southern end of Sea of Galilee.

1917: British government’s Balfour Declaration backs establishing Jewish homeland in Palestine, without prejudice to “civil and religious rights” of non-Jewish population.

British mandate

1917: British forces under General E. H. Allenby capture Palestine from Ottoman Turks.

1922: League of Nations approves British mandate of Palestine.

1946: Jordan gains independence from Britain.

1947: United Nations Partition Plan calls for a Jewish state and an Arab state in Palestine, with Greater Jerusalem (including Bethlehem) under international control; most Jewish groups accept plan but Arabs reject it.

1947: Dead Sea Scrolls are discovered at Qumran.

1948: Amid civil unrest and violence, Britain withdraws from mandate.

Israel and Palestinian Territories

1948: After Jewish provisional government declares Israel an independent state, Arab forces invade.

1949: Israel prevails in Arab-Israeli War, though Egypt holds Gaza, and Jordan the West Bank and East Jerusalem; more than 700,000 Palestinians become refugees.

1967: In Six-Day War against Egypt, Jordan and Syria, Israel occupies Sinai, Gaza, Golan Heights, West Bank and East Jerusalem.

1969: Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth, largest Christian church in Middle East, is completed.

1973: In Yom Kippur War against Egypt and Syria, Israel makes further territorial gains.

1979: Israel and Egypt sign peace treaty; Israel agrees to return Sinai to Egypt.

1986: Remains of fishing boat from time of Jesus found in Sea of Galilee.

1987-93: Palestinians carry out First Intifada (uprising) against Israeli occupation.

1993: Israel gives Palestinian National Authority limited autonomy in West Bank and Gaza.

1994: Jordan and Israel sign peace treaty.

1996: Excavations begin at likely site of Christ’s baptism, in former minefield at Bethany Beyond the Jordan.

1997: Interchurch co-operation completes 36-year restoration of Church of the Holy Sepulchre; reconstruction of Tomb of Christ edicule remains to be done.

2000-05: Second Intifada follows controversial visit by Israeli politician Ariel Sharon to Temple Mount.

2002: Israel Defence Forces besiege Palestinian militants in Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem, for 39 days.

2002: Israel begins building 700-km West Bank separation wall.

2005: Remains of early 3rd-century church found at Megiddo.

2005: Israel withdraws settlers and military from Gaza.

2007: Archaeologist Ehud Netzer discovers Herod the Great’s long-lost tomb at Herodium.

2008: Responding to rocket attacks, Israel launches 22-day war against Gaza.

2009: Archaeologists in Nazareth uncover residential building from time of Jesus.

2012: United Nations General Assembly accepts Palestine as a “non-member observer state”.

2013: City of David excavators find clay seal inscribed with name of Bethlehem, first reference to the city outside the Bible.

2014: Discovery of nine previously unknown Dead Sea scrolls announced; the tiny texts were inside unopened tefillin (prayer cases) found at Qumran in 1952.

2014: Responding to rocket fire, Israel launches seven-week bombardment of Gaza.

2017: Restoration of Tomb of Christ in Church of the Holy Sepulchre is completed.

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