Old City (Jerusalem) Church Now Open

The Church of Saint John the Baptist is located at 113 Christian Quarter Road in the Old City of Jerusalem.  I have always wanted to visit the church but visiting hours were non-existent and it seemed that the church was always locked!$#@!

OldCity04This past June when walking past the church I noticed the door to the courtyard was open so I “popped in.”

IJCHSJC07

View of the entrance to the Church of Saint John the Baptist with the courtyard in the foreground.

Much to my surprise the door to the sanctuary, on the far side of the courtyard was also open—so I walked in!

Aviva Bar–Am describes the interior of the church as “one of the most ornate in Jerusalem”—and it did not disappoint!

IJCHSJC03

View of the Iconostasis of the Church of Saint John the Baptist. On the pedestal to the right of the carpet is a relic of the skull of John the Baptist.

The current church was built sometime between the 8th and 11th centuries.  Underneath of it is an older Byzantine Church that dates to the time of the Empress Eudocia— ca 5th century A.D.—it is not yet open to the public.

IJCHSJC04

View of an icon depicting the head of John the Baptist on a platter. To the right of it, within a jeweled silver case, is a piece of a skull that is said to be a relic of John the Baptist.

In the sanctuary a relic that is said to be a portion of the skull of John the Baptist is venerated.  During the Crusader Period the Knights Hospitaler cared for the sick from this monastery/church.  After the conquest of Jerusalem by the Muslims in 1187 — eventually the church was returned to the Greek Orthodox.

For a convenient description of this church see Bar–Am, Aviva. Beyond the Walls: Churches of Jerusalem. Jerusalem: Ahva Press, 1998, pp. 36–49.

For additional photos of the Church of Saint John the Baptist Click Here.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s