Church of the Holy Sepulchre – 1952

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre is located in the city of Jerusalem. The site is one of Christianity’s most revered sites as both the place where Jesus was crucified, and where he was resurrected. This is confusing to many but the church building is actually large enough that it encompasses both sites. Wikipedia has a great image showing this. The original building was two connected churches over the two different sites.

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre was built 325 AD by Roman Emperor Constantine the Great. He was the first Roman Emperor to convert to Christianity and was later elevated to Sainthood partially for doing so and building the church.

Church of the Holy Sepulchre

Old Photo from 1952 of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in the Old City of Jerusalem

The destruction of the Church in 1009 by Caliph Al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah was the reason for some of the later Crusades. His son later agreed to allow the rebuilding of the church in 1028, and it was finished in 1048. The ownership of the church changed many times during the next several centuries. In 1555 Franciscan friars rebuilt, expanded the church, and repaired major portions that had deteriorated due to neglect.

One of the most interesting things about the modern church building is that six Christian sects are responsible for the building. This had led to the “Immovable Ladder,” a ladder left by workmen in 1767. Due to the agreement that nothing may be moved, rearranged, or altered without the consent of all six orders, the ladder has remained there since then. In 1964 Pope Paul VI issued orders that the ladder was to remain in place until the Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church reached a state of ecumenism. As such, this humble ladder has become a significant cultural icon of the agreement between the six Christian orders.

Interesting to note in this picture is the scaffolding. This was put in place in 1947 by the British to hold up the red marble that clads the exterior of part of the building and had become detached from the underlying structure. It is still there due to the same reason the ladder has not been moved.