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The Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem is the holiest place in the world for all currents of Christianity, except Protestants. There, according to the belief, is the Golgotha or Mount of Calvary, the place where Jesus of Nazareth died crucified. Within a few meters, inside the same enclosure, there is also the tomb where Jesus was buried and resurrected. The Catholic tradition places within the Church the last five of the fourteen stations of the Via Dolorosa. Together with the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, it is the oldest church in the world still standing, about 1700 years old. Like Jerusalem itself, it has endured countless wars, fires and earthquakes, and was destroyed and rebuilt several times.
Year 135. The Emperor Hadrian suffocates the Rebellion of Bar Kojba, changes the name of Jerusalem by Aelia Capitolina and transforms it into a pagan city. Where before was the Temple of Jerusalem builds a temple dedicated to Jupiter. Where today stands the Church of the Holy Sepulcher builds a temple to the goddess Venus, perhaps to erase the traces of a place of earlier Christian worship.
326. The Empress Helena, mother of Emperor Constantine, travels to the
Holy Land and orders to build four churches, among them the Church of the
Nativity in Bethlehem and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem,
originally called Church of the Anastasis (resurrection in Greek) .
According to legend, where today is the Chapel of St. Helena, in the crypt
of the present church, Helena finds three crosses: that of Jesus and those
of the good thief and evil thief who had been crucified at his side. In
order to distinguish which of the three was that of Jesus, bring a sick
person who touches each of the crosses until, when he rests his hands on
The True Cross miraculously heals himself.
614. The Sassanid Persians invade the Holy Land, kill thousands of clerics, destroy dozens of monasteries and churches, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher is damaged and the True Cross is taken to Persia as booty. Fourteen years later, the Byzantine emperor Heraclius defeats the Persians, recovers the cross and restores the Church.
1009. The caliph of the Fatimid dynasty in Egypt, Al-Hakim bi Amr Allah, destroys the Church.
1048. The Byzantine emperor Monomachus, after having reached an agreement with the Fatimis, rebuilds the church. But the Church no longer returns to colossal size nor regain the splendor it held in the days of Constantine and Helen.
1099. The Crusaders, commanded by Godfrey of Bouillon, conquer Jerusalem. Shortly after, works of widening and reconstruction of the Holy Sepulcher begin.
1149. At the turn of the fiftieth anniversary of the cross-conquest, Queen Melisenda reinvigorates the Church.
1187. The Crusaders bring the True Cross to the battlefield to infuse themselves with courage, imitating the Israelites who were carrying the Ark of the Covenant when they fought against the Philistines. Saladin defeats the Crusaders, the True Cross is lost and the first Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem collapses. The Christian presence in the Holy Land decreases and also the flow of Christian pilgrims who arrive at the Holy Sepulcher for the next eight centuries.
1852. There are centuries of disputes between different Christian communities for the possession and administration of the church, which was varied according to the political and economic expediency of the ruler of the day. Until the Ottoman sultan decrees the Status Quo in the middle of the nineteenth century. Since then, the division of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher prevails among six communities: Greek Orthodox, Catholic, Armenian, Syrian, Coptic and Ethiopian. The Status Quo establishes which section corresponds to each community, what liturgical rights each has, in what parts and on what dates. The division has remained almost intact even though Jerusalem has changed hands several times since. The Status Quo has been maintained under the Ottoman Empire, the British Mandate, the Kingdom of Jordan and the State of Israel.