Tomb of the Virgin Mary

Jerusalem, Israel

Tomb of the Virgin Mary, is a Christian tomb in the Kidron Valley – at the foot of Mount of Olives, in Jerusalem – believed by Eastern Christians to be the burial place of Mary, the mother of Jesus.

The Sacred Tradition of Eastern Christianity teaches that the Virgin Mary died a natural death, like any human being; that her soul was received by Christ upon death; and that her body was resurrected on the third day after her repose, at which time she was taken up, soul and body, into heaven in anticipation of the general resurrection. Her tomb, according to this teaching, was found empty on the third day.

Roman Catholic teaching holds that Mary was 'assumed' into heaven in bodily form, the Assumption; the question of whether or not Mary actually underwent physical death remains open in the Catholic view.

A narrative known as the Euthymiaca Historia (written probably by Cyril of Scythopolis in the 5th century) relates how the Emperor Marcian and his wife, Pulcheria, requested the relics of the Virgin Mary from Juvenal, the Patriarch of Jerusalem, while he was attending the Council of Chalcedon (451). According to the account, Juvenal replied that, on the third day after her burial, Mary's tomb was discovered to be empty, only her shroud being preserved in the church of Gethsemane. In 452 the shroud was sent to Constantinople, where it was kept in the Church of Our Lady of Blachernae (Panagia Blacherniotissa).

Archaeology

In 1972, Bellarmino Bagatti, a Franciscan friar and archaeologist, excavated the site and found evidence of an ancient cemetery dating to the 1st century; his findings have not yet been subject to peer review by the wider archaeological community, and the validity of his dating has not been fully assessed.

Bagatti interpreted the remains to indicate that the cemetery's initial structure consisted of three chambers (the actual tomb being the inner chamber of the whole complex), was adjudged in accordance with the customs of that period. Later, the tomb interpreted by the local Christians to be that of Mary's was isolated from the rest of the necropolis, by cutting the surrounding rock face away from it. An edicule was built on the tomb.

A small upper church on an octagonal footing was built by Patriarch Juvenal (during Marcian's rule) over the location in the 5th century; this was destroyed in the Persian invasion of 614. During the following centuries the church was destroyed and rebuilt many times, but the crypt was left untouched, as for Muslims it is the burial place of the mother of prophet Isa (Jesus).

It was rebuilt then in 1130 by the Crusaders, who installed a walled Benedictine monastery, the Abbey of St. Mary of the Valley of Jehoshaphat; the church is sometimes mentioned as the Shrine of Our Lady of Josaphat. The monastic complex included early Gothic columns, red-on-green frescoes, and three towers for protection. The staircase and entrance were also part of the Crusaders' church. This church was destroyed by Saladin in 1187, but the crypt was still respected; all that was left was the south entrance and staircase, the masonry of the upper church being used to build the walls of Jerusalem.

In the second half of the 14th century Franciscan friars rebuilt the church once more. The Greek Orthodox clergy launched a Palm Sunday takeover of various Holy Land sites, including this one, in 1757 and expelled the Franciscans. The Ottomans supported this 'status quo' in the courts. Since then, the tomb has been owned by the Greek Orthodox Church and Armenian Apostolical Church of Jerusalem, while the grotto of Gethsemane remained in the possession of the Franciscans.

Church

Preceded by a walled courtyard to the south, the cruciform church shielding the tomb has been excavated in an underground rock-cut cave entered by a wide descending stair dating from the 12th century. On the right side of the staircase there is the chapel of Mary's parents, Joachim and Anne, initially built to hold the tomb of Queen Melisende of Jerusalem, the daughter of Baldwin II, whose sarcophagus has been removed from there by the Greek Orthodox. On the left (towards the west) there is the chapel of Saint Joseph, Mary's husband, initially built as the tomb of two other female relatives of Baldwin II.

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Details

Founded: 0-100 BCE
Category: Cemeteries, mausoleums and burial places in Israel

More Information

en.wikipedia.org

Rating

4.6/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Petr Sobíšek (18 months ago)
Church under the administration of Greek and Armenian Church. The main space is below ground level, so you have to descend the long, wide stairs from 12th century. Current church was build in Gothic style in 14th century, but Romanesque portal and stairs are from the Crusaders era, the rock tomb is from 5th century. According to tradition it is the tomb of the Virgin Mary. A very mystical place.
Bose AT (19 months ago)
The Tomb of the Virgin Mary is situated near the Church of All Nations and the Garden of Gethsemane. Visiting the tomb is a memorable experience: Visitors must go deep underground, down a staircase that was carved in the rock during the twelfth century. Immediately surrounding is a sparkling array of iconography, hanging from the ceiling and decorating the cave walls. Medieval art, including a painting of the Madonna and Child, adorn this sanctuary. The crypt is sheltered within a barrier, so that a visitor must bend forward in order to enter. This forces people to bow and thereby demonstrate their respect for the sanctity of the site. The tomb has been dated as early as the first century. A church was built above the tomb during the same period that Constantine built the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, where some Catholics believe the tomb of Jesus is located. Most Christians believe that Mary was resurrected after her death.
Michael Strelka (20 months ago)
do not miss it. Especially if you are there on a Sunday and are able to attend Divine Liturgy in the morning.
Daniel Flynn (20 months ago)
Once-in-a-lifetime opportunity The temple of the lady is so powerful I would ask all the rathkeale travellers to visit the site Foxy Eileen you have to go I have played for everybody May God bless you from Jimmy Lou
Hope Reynolds (2 years ago)
We visited our Holy Land, The State of Israel, and were fortunate to visit the Tomb of the Virgin, where we prayed for world peace! Highly recommend
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