Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Jerusalem Doors III, Helena's Cistern

This is not a Jerusalem door, exactly, but rather an entryway; Active Son ducks as he heads down into an underground cistern, located beneath the Armenian chapel of St. Helena, mother of Constantine.

This underground reservoir is also known as the Chapel of the Finding of the Cross as, according to tradition, St. Helena supervised the excavation of the cistern, in which she found fragments of the cross of Christ.

Our visit to the moist, cool cavern was a welcome reprieve from the summer heat above. And, the the acoustics were pretty amazing: Note the lady wearing a headset at the top of the stairway, who was making a recording while we were there.


Kerry said...

Wonderful! I believe yesterday was St. Helena's feast day.

So, what did you think about the story of Helena finding the True Cross? I recently had a brief discussion about these sorts of legends.

Kerry said...

just subbing in case you reply here

desert mom said...

I don't know about the True Cross, but it does seem that because Helena and others built churches on historical landmarks, we do have more certainty of the their authenticity. Another example I know of is the traditional Baptism spot of John the Baptist-or-"Bethany on the other side of the Jordan. Besides other archeological evidence for the site, ancient churches were found during the excavation in the mid-late 1990s.

Kerry said...

That is kind of the approach I take to these types of religious legends. I believe that people have retained these memories in their traditions, story-telling, and such. Some of the details may have been misremembered or misconstrued or untrue to begin with, but there is some essence of truth to the legend. Some kernel in there.

The few times I've had the chance to visit sites like these (Troy, Ephesus and a couple other places in Turkey) I found them fascinating! But I'm a history nut and would find a dirt road interesting if it had a good story to go along with it.

desert mom said...

Kerry, I think you'd love Jerusalem; lots of fascinating history. Jordan too, for that matter, but I find the old city of Jerusalem particularly fascinating.