The most important destination for medieval Christian pilgrims was Jerusalem, the city of Christ’s crucifixion, burial and resurrection. The locations of these events were identified in the fourth century and eventually brought together under one roof with the construction of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
Jerusalem pilgrims expressed their devotion to Christ by visiting sites such as the Calvary chapel, where he was crucified, and the Holy Sepulchre, the tomb from which he had supposedly risen from the dead. Although the Sepulchre stood empty, it was still believed to contain sacred power because of the divine body it had once contained.
Beyond the empty tomb itself, the church’s wider complex was renowned as the place where relics of Christ’s Passion, such as the True Cross, had been discovered. Fragments of the True Cross were among the most prized relics in medieval Christianity and were sought after by popes, kings and emperors alike.
The Aedicule is located in the centre of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre’s rotunda. It is the chapel within which Christ’s empty tomb is said to be contained. This Aedicule model enabled seventeenth-century pilgrims to recall more vividly their visit to the site of Christ’s burial and resurrection. It replicated the architecture and decoration of the Aedicule to a high level of precision.
The Aedicule, within the rotunda of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre (January 2018)