The Church of Saint John the Baptist in the Christian Quarter of Jerusalem is a small Greek Orthodox church. In its current form, most of the above-ground church dates to the 11th century, and the crypt to the Late Roman or Byzantine period (between ca. 324 and 500 CE). According to the Greek Orthodox tradition, the head of St. John the Baptist was held in this church.
The first structure, a north-south oriented trefoil building, was built sometime in the 4th-6th century and served for unknown purposes. It was damaged at the Persian conquest of Jerusalem in 614 and then extensively modified. A source can be interpreted to mean that it was restored during the 7th century by John the Almoner, Patriarch of Alexandria.
By the 11th century the ancient structure had sunk to at least 3 metres beneath the street level, with its doors and windows blocked, and served as a storage place for goods and water. During this century, an organisation of Amalfitan merchants settled in Jerusalem and acquired the south-west corner of the Hadrianic forum, where they established a pilgrim hospice, complete with a hospital and a church. The new church was erected above the ancient structure, which became its basement and dictated the tri-apsed layout of the entire church. This church was tended to by Benedictine monks. In 1099, Crusader knights injured during the siege of Jerusalem were treated at the hospital and after recovering started here what was to become the Order of Knights of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem, named after the church, also known as the Knights Hospitaller. After the capture of Jerusalem by Saladin in 1187, the basement was apparently filled with debris.
At the end of the 15th century, the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem acquired the church and most probably transformed the basement into a chapel, which according to excavator, Jean-Baptiste Humbert of the École Biblique, might well constitute the first time that the structure was used for a cultic purpose. During the 16th century the church was used for a short period as a mosque, but was soon recovered by the Greek Orthodox, who in 1660 build a large pilgrim hospice next to it. In the 19th century the crypt was cleared out, and an impressive reliquary was brought to light from the masonry of the altar.References:
The Abbey of Saint-Etienne, also known as Abbaye aux Hommes ('Men"s Abbey'), is a former monastery dedicated to Saint Stephen (Saint Étienne). It is considered, along with the neighbouring Abbaye aux Dames ('Ladies" Abbey'), to be one of the most notable Romanesque buildings in Normandy. Like all the major abbeys in Normandy, it was Benedictine.
Lanfranc, before being an Archbishop of Canterbury, was abbot of Saint-Etienne. Built in Caen stone during the 11th century, the two semi-completed churches stood for many decades in competition. An important feature added to both churches in about 1120 was the ribbed vault, used for the first time in France. The two abbey churches are considered forerunners of the Gothic architecture. The original Romanesque apse was replaced in 1166 by an early Gothic chevet, complete with rosette windows and flying buttresses. Nine towers and spires were added in the 13th century. The interior vaulting shows a similar progression, beginning with early sexpartite vaulting (using circular ribs) in the nave and progressing to quadipartite vaults (using pointed ribs) in the sanctuary.
The two monasteries were finally donated by William the Conqueror and his wife, Matilda of Flanders, as penalty for their marriage against the Pope"s ruling. William was buried here; Matilda was buried in the Abbaye aux Dames. Unfortunately William"s original tombstone of black marble, the same kind as Matilda"s in the Abbaye aux Dames, was destroyed by the Calvinist iconoclasts in the 16th century and his bones scattered.
As a consequence of the Wars of Religion, the high lantern tower in the middle of the church collapsed and was never rebuilt. The Benedictine abbey was suppressed during the French Revolution and the abbey church became a parish church. From 1804 to 1961, the abbey buildings accommodated a prestigious high school, the Lycée Malherbe. During the Normandy Landings in 1944, inhabitants of Caen found refuge in the church; on the rooftop there was a red cross, made with blood on a sheet, to show that it was a hospital (to avoid bombings).