|A temple to the Roman gods (135-335 AD)|
* The door
* Sunday Vigil
Emperor Hadrian suppressed the revolt in 135 AD and decided to demolish the whole city of Jerusalem in order to erase all sites which could incite another revolt by the Jewish people. The emperor also forbade any Jewish presence in the new city. A Gentile-Christian community continued to live in Jerusalem and they ensured the continuity of identification of the sacred sites (the first bishop of this community was Marcus).
Hadrian thus prepared a completely new city structured on Hellenistic plans and renamed it "Aelia Capitolina" ("Aelia" in his honour and "Capitolina" because it was to contain a Capitol for the Roman gods). In this new architectural plan the Garden of Golgotha came to be at the centre of the new city. Some authors maintain that the area on this Garden became the Capitol of the new city with altars for the three main Roman gods - Jupiter at the centre flanked by Juno and Minerva. Others, quoting evidence provided by the writings of Eusebius of Caesarea, maintain that the temple was dedicated to Aphrodite. Both schools of thought agree that a pagan temple was erected on this site.
Christian literary sources recount how the Garden of Golgotha was filled up to
level off the area for the construction of the new Roman temple. Here is how
Eusebius of Caesarea (265-340 AD), a native of Palestine, describes these events in his Life of
The pagan temple of Hadrian was built on the east-west axis and was surrounded
by a Temenos (a protective wall with its façade on the Cardus Maximus from where you
entered into the sacred enclosure). St. Jerome, in a letter to Paulinus in 395
From these descriptions, confirmed also by the archaeological research carried out in the area, we know that this pagan temple of Aelia transformed the Judeo-Christian site into a pagan one by placing the cult of Jupiter on the tomb of the Lord and that of Venus on Calvary. This situation continued for about 180 years as is stated by Jerome himself.
© 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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