25/11/2005

The edicule under the Constantinian rotunda

 

 

The most important element of the complex is the rotunda which contains the sepulchre itself. The sepulchre stands in an elaborate structure within the rotunda, surrounded by columns supporting an ornamented, domed roof. Some masonry remains were revealed below the floor and around the perimeter of the rotunda. Wherever bedrock was exposed, there were indications of stone-quarrying in earlier periods. The quarrying operation lowered the surface level around the sepulcher, which thus stood well above its surroundings.

An architectural survey of the outer wall of the rotunda - 35 m. in diameter and in some sections preserved to a height of 10 m. - shows that it maintains its original 4th century shape. The sepulchre itself is surrounded by a circle of twelve columns - groups of three columns between four pairs of square piers. It is possible that the columns for the 4th century rotunda were removed from their original location on the facade of the Roman temple. Renovation of the piers exposed evidence that the columns had originally been much higher and that the Crusaders cut them in half for use in the 12th century rotunda.

 

The renovation of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is still in progress, but after generations of neglect, the building has already regained most of its former beauty. 

And from under the "Light" coming through the transparent lantern of the Dome we cannot but look with renewed hope at the shabiness of "The Tomb" girdled by metal beams to protect it and avoid its crumbling under the weight of time. A hope to see even "The Tomb" freed from the accumulation of time's burdens. May this not be only a dream but a vision of a future which the living generations can partake in its inherent beauty. With this inauguration of the decoration on the Dome a new "Light" enters at the site from where the "Light of the World" came forth on Resurrection Sunday.

 

 

 

 

 

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