The Church of the Holy Sepulchre was shaken by a strong earthquake in 1927, which seriously damaged the Aedicule inside. The three denominations which were responsible for the Aedicule – the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem, the Roman Catholic (Franciscan) Custodian and the Armenian apostolic Church – could only agree at that time on the most necessary work on the Holy Sepulchre to be done; as a result the Aedicule was in danger of collapse. In 1947 the former British mandate government was forced to support the Aedicule with steel pillars. The interior and exterior of the Aedicule was also damaged by candle soot, which affected the entire construction of the building. Particularly, older frescoes and writings adoring the Aedicule were covered in soot. Much later, in 2016/2017 the three denominations agreed on a restoration and it was commissioned to the renowned engineer Prof. Dr. Antonia Moropoulou and her team from NTU Athens. From the context of these disputes it becomes clear that the building of the Holy Sepulchre is not easy to be separated form its religious significance. Specifically, it has a special geopolitical significance in the whole history of its existence due to its religious dynamics. The paper will show the historical development of the Holy Sepulchre Church building through important sources in the first and second millennium. Furthermore, it will also be pointed the inter-religious significance of the Church. In particular, the ceremony of the Holy Fire on Holy Saturday will be mentioned, which was once celebrated not only as a Christian event, but also by Muslims on 9th and 10th centuries. This ceremony also played an important symbolic role in the separation between the East and West Christianity. The entire building of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre can be understood properly only if its religious significance in time can be recognized. The paper will focus for this reason on the historical-religious significance of the building. This church is an example of how religion can become the protector or the destroyer of Cultural Heritage.


Christianity Religion Culture Dialog Jerusalem Holy Sepulchre 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of BernBernSwitzerland

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