Part 1. The Chapel of John the Evangelist and Its Inscriptions


Michael E. Stone (Jerusalem)-Member of Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities
Khachik A. Harutyunyan-Candidate of Sciences in Philology
Over the centuries the Holy Sepulchre has been and continues to be one of the main sanctuaries of the Christian world up to our days. Armenians and other Christian peoples have visited this Basilica, renewed their vow with God, obtained new holy places, extended or lost them, celebrated holy masses there, and copied manuscripts. Indeed, in the colophons of some Armenian manuscripts it is possible to see the Holy Sepulchre as a place of copying. With the hope of leaving their names in the book of life and being mentioned in future (this phenomenon is wellknown and widespread in the colophons of the Armenian manuscripts) the Armenian pilgrims have engraved numerous graffiti in the different sites in the complex forming the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

In this series of articles, we present the Armenian inscriptions of the Holy Sepulchre. In the first part we present one of the Armenian sites of the Holy Sepulchre – the Chapel of John the Evangelist and its inscriptions. The chapel is located in the eastern part of the courtyard of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Rev. John Hannah (Hovhannes Hanna), a well-known scholar of Jerusalem’s history, writes that the chapel was built in the same place where, according to legend, John the Evangelist and the Mother of God stood during the crucifixion of Christ (John 26:26-27). There is no information about the date of construction of the chapel, but it was probably built  before the 6th CE century, as it is mentioned in the famous “List” of Anastas Vardapet, who presumably visited the Holy places in the middle of the 6th century.

In total, we have managed to find 8 inscriptions there, 5 of which are in the Chapel, and the other 3 are graffiti incised at the entrance of the Chapel.