Tomb of the Virgin Mary, a Church of Saint Mary situated in the Kidron Valley in Jerusalem. The Kidron Valley, which is located at the foot of Mount Olives is believed to be the burial place of Saint Mary, the mother of Jesus. The Bible holds no information about Mary’s death or her burial place.
History of the place
The Tomb is believed to be as old as of the 2nd and 3rd century, the tradition, then became strong in the 5th century when Ephesus was strongly disputed. Then, in around 455, an ancient tomb was isolated by extracting the rocks. The church site has few written script which dates from the 6th century. The Persian in 614, destroyed, the round church which was built above the tomb in the year 582- 602 by Mauritius Tiberius.
Then in 680, the church was rebuilt. According to the recordings recorded by pilgrim Arculf, the church had 2-round levels. The uppermost level has 4-altars, while the lower one has tomb of Mary on the right side.
The church was then rebuilt in 1130, which included ‘Abbey Church of St. Mary’ of Jehosaphat. The complex was then included with red-green frescoes, 3-tower for protection, Gothic column and so on. The queen Melisande was then buried at lower church in the year 1161. The church was built back to a good state on arrival of the Crusaders.
After fall of Crusaders in the year 1187, Salah Al-Din destroyed upper part of the church and used the stones to repair the city walls. The site was then taken over by the Francisans and then been ruled by Greeks, Syrians, Armenians, Copts, Muslims and Abyssinians. The Tomb is venerated by Muslims, as it is believed that during the journey from Mecca to Jerusalem, Prophet Muhammad saw a light over the tomb. Also, Caliph Umar prayed in the year 638 at Gethsemane.
What to see?
The upper church has a square courtyard where, steps descend from the roadside. The pointed arch gaining support on eight marble columns depicts ancient construction. Then on entering inside, the 47-steps down staircase of 12-century heads to the tomb of Queen Melisande. The tomb of Queen Melisande was protected by iron bars, opposite to her tomb is vault of her family. The church holds 12-century windows and stairs.
In the 14th century, body of Queen Melisande was moved to foot of stair and subsequently identified with Mary’s Parents Anne and Joachim. And the tomb of King Baldwin’s family was identified as the Tomb of Joseph. The lower church depicts Byzantine style made out of rock which features Byzantine masonry. There is a niche to the south of the tomb, as a Mihrab which indicate direction of Mecca.
Few people also claim that there is another tomb of the Virgin Mary which is located in Turkmenistan. Turkmenistan a town which originally was named as Mari. Supporters or Proponents also claim that after surviving the crucifixion, Jesus Christ and Mother Mary travelled to India, where they remained until the end of their lives. The legitimacy of such claims is not academically approved or established by any research or scholastic.