|The great destruction and its aftermath (1009 - 1099 AD)|
* The door
* Sunday Vigil
In 1009 AD, the Fatimite Khalif of Egypt al-Hakim explicitly ordered the
destruction of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. The Arab historian Yahia ibn
Sa`id describe the events thus: "the holy deed commenced on Tuesday, the fifth
day before the end of the month of Safar of the year 400 of the Egira (1009 AD
in our calendar). Only those parts of difficult access were spared". They
started by demolishing the tomb itself, the dome and the high parts of the
buildings until the debris at their feet blocked their destruction.
When the imperial architects arrived in Jerusalem they concluded that it was impossible to restore the whole Constantinian structure. So they
opted to keep only the Anastasis with a large apse towards the East and various
small chapels in the area of the Cloister-garden and the Martyrium. These
works were carried out between 1042 and 1048. In this reconstruction the
eastern Atrium, the Martyrium and the Cloister-garden vanished! And with the
restoration of the Anastasis and of the bishop's seat the beauty of the direct
lighting from the sun was lost forever!
Notwithstanding the changes the new set-up provided also some works of
splendor. Mosaics covered the walls and the dome. The Russian abbot Daniel
visited Jerusalem in 1106-1107 and left this description: "The Church of the
Resurrection is of a circular form having twelve monolithic columns and six
pillars. Its floor is made of beautiful marble slabs.
It has six entrances and tribunes with 12 columns. Lively mosaics of the holy prophets are under the ceiling, over the tribune. The altar is surmounted by a mosaic image of Christ. In the main altar one can see the mosaic of the Exhaltation of Adam. In the apse the Ascension of Christ. The Annunciation occupies the two pillars next to the altar. The dome of the church is not closed by a stone vault but is made up of wooden beams in a truss form. In this way the Church has an opening at the top. The Holy Sepulchre stands under this open dome..."
The pilgrim Daniel saw mosaics in the Chapel of the Crucifixion on Golgotha. He visited the chapel of the "Prison of Christ", that of the "Finding of the Cross" and the chapel dedicated to Jesus' apparition to his mother to the north of the Anastasis.
© Text prepared by John Abela ofm based on articles and research
by Virgilio Corbo ofm, Michele
Piccirillo ofm and Eugenio Alliata ofm
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