|The Angel's Stone, a fragment of the stone believed to have sealed the tomb after Jesus' burial, in the first of the two chambers of the Edicule, the second one being the tomb itself. Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem.|
Sunday, April 8, 2012
In the early 2nd century, the site of the present Church had been a temple of Aphrodite; several ancient writers alternatively describe it as a temple to Venus, the Roman equivalent to Aphrodite. Eusebius claims, in his Life of Constantine, that the site of the Church had originally been a Christian place of veneration, but that Hadrian had deliberately covered these Christian sites with earth, and built his own temple on top, due to his hatred for Christianity. Although Eusebius does not say as much, the temple of Aphrodite was probably built as part of Hadrian's reconstruction of Jerusalem as Aelia Capitolina in 135, following the destruction of the Jewish Revolt of 70 and the Bar Kokhba revolt of 132–135.
Emperor Constantine I ordered in about 325/326 that the temple be demolished and the soil - which had provided a flat surface for the temple - be removed, instructing Macarius of Jerusalem, the local Bishop, to build a church on the site. The Pilgrim of Bordeaux reports in 333: There, at present, by the command of the Emperor Constantine, has been built a basilica, that is to say, a church of wondrous beauty. Constantine directed his mother, Helena, to build churches upon sites which commemorated the life of Jesus Christ; she was present in 326 at the construction of the church on the site, and involved herself in the excavations and construction.
During the excavation, Helena is alleged to have rediscovered the True Cross, and a tomb, though Eusebius's account makes no mention of Helena's presence at the excavation, nor of the finding of the cross but only the tomb. According to Eusebius, the tomb exhibited a clear and visible proof that it was the tomb of Jesus.Socrates Scholasticus (born c. 380), in his Ecclesiastical History, gives a full description of the discovery (that was repeated later by Sozomen and by Theodoret) which emphasizes the role played in the excavations and construction by Helena; just as the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem (also founded by Constantine and Helena) commemorated the birth of Jesus, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre would commemorate his death and resurrection......