The Church of the Anastasis

The focus of pilgrimage from the time of the Empress Helena, the Church of the Anastasis (Holy Spulchre to Latin Christians) in Jerusalem was a focus of devotion even for those who were unable or unwilling to make the arduous journey. For Orthodox Christians (and for Russians, after the conversion of Kiev) the Church containing the Tomb of Christ was the mother Church of Christendom. In the West the growth of affective piety associated first of all with the Cistercians and then the Franciscan movement, ensured a devotion to the Holy Places, and especially the Sepulchre itself. Our illustrations show a finger ring surmounted by a representation of the aedicule over the tomb as it must have been in the late sixth century. The ring was found in a Byzantine house on the outskirts ofJerusalem in the 1970s. Throughout Europe copies of the disposition of the tomb itself were erected as objects of devotion. Here (left) we wee the reconstruction at San Vivaldo di Valdesam near Florence (c. 1500) and (right) the exotic, rather Turkish version in the church of St Anna, Augsburg, Bavaria (1507-8). The small stone model shows the aedicule as it was rebuilt after an earthquake in 1555. A momento of a sixteenth century pilgrimage, it was found in Amsterdam in 1977. In Bruges, Belgium an Italian merchant family from Genoa, who had settled in the town, built a small family chapel which they later extended to include representations of the major scenes of the Passion, including a model of the Holy Sepulchre, which members of the family had visited. The church was completed by 1470. Our illustration (below left) shows the High Altar (Calvary), beneath which is the tomb itself.

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