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THE CHURCH OF THE HOL Y SEPULCHRE.
world; the place whence the earth was taken out of which Adam was made, with many other marvels. Even those who come, with simple faith, to “see the place where the Lord lay,” depart indignant at the frauds and lying legends palmed off upon them. This feeling is increased by the tinsel and frippery which abound everywhere. The very Chapel of the Resurrection is made offensive by puerile ornamentation and tawdry finery. Yet in spite of all it is strangely affecting to see the agony of earnestness, the passionate fervour of devotion displayed by pilgrims, many of whom have travelled on foot from incredible distances to pray at the sacred shrines.
We may dismiss, without a moment's hesitation, the legends which cluster around the main central tradition; but have we reasonable ground for believing that our Lord was crucified and buried upon this spot 2 What is the evidence upon which the authenticity of the site rests 2
In the reign of Constantine the city had been laid utterly waste; its very name had ceased to be used, and Christians and Jews had been banished from it for generations. The superstitious zeal of the Empress Helena prompted her to visit the sacred places, and the site of Calvary had been fixed by the alleged discovery of the three crosses which were found in a pit, and their authenticity is said to have been attested by the miracles which were worked. Constantine now resolved to recover the Sepulchre and to erect a church, the splendour and beauty of which should surpass all others. Eusebius tells us, that the pagans had piled a mound of earth over the cave, had paved the surface, and placed upon it a temple to Venus; the emperor caused these to be removed, when, “as soon as the original surface of the
ground, beneath its covering of earth appeared, immediately and contrary to all expectation, the venerable and hallowed monument of our Saviour's resurrection was discovered.” The cave was adorned with marbles, a colonnade was erected round it, and a basilica was built in honour of the Anastasis, or Resurrection.
Two questions at once suggest themselves. Did Constantine discover
THE CHURCH OF THE HOL P SEPULCHA’E.
the true site 2 Does the present church stand upon the same spot with his basilica 2 To these questions the most contradictory answers are given. By some it is maintained that the emperor was guided, in his search, by accurate information, that a continuous tradition connects his edifice with the present church, and that, consequently, we have the very places of the entombment
Chapel, OF THE HOLY SEPULCHRE.
and resurrection fixed beyond reasonable doubt. Others, holding that the true site was discovered by Constantine, yet assert that during the intervals in which Christians were banished from Jerusalem by Persian and Mohammedan conquerors, the original edifice was destroyed, the locality forgotten, and that a new church sprung up upon a different site, around which legends have clustered in the lapse of ages which have no historical basis. Others,