Q:

What is the history of the Church of St. Anne in Jerusalem?

A:

Quick Answer

The church of St. Anne in Jerusalem is a Roman Catholic church built between 1131 and 1138. The church sits next to the two pools of Bethesda and stands on a site previously occupied by a Greek temple to the medicine god, Asclepius.

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Full Answer

A Byzantine convent stood on the site prior to the construction of the present church and was home to 5th century figure Arda, the wife of the first crusader king, Baldwin I. Many Christians believe that the church sits on an old grotto that is said to be the Virgin Mary's birthplace. The church is named after St. Anne, the grandmother of Jesus Christ, who is the patron saint of unmarried women, housewives, cabinet makers and women in labor.

In 1192, the church was turned into a Muslim madrasa, or theological school, on the orders of Saladin, the sultan of Egypt. After the crusades, the madrasa fell into disrepair and the buidling remained abandoned for centuries. In 1856, the Ottomans donated the church to the French government who restored it to its original state.

The church is said to have some of the finest acoustics in the world and is particularly suited to Gregorian chanting. For this reason the church remains a magnet for soloists, choirs and singers from around the world.

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