CHURCH AND THE LADDER:
Historic Image Gallery
FROZEN IN TIME
Copyright 1999, 2011, 2015
by James E.
Note: Images from the author's collection may not be reproduced without permission.
From as early as the 15th century, the entrance to
the Church of the Holy Sepulchre was a favorite subject for illustraters, and later photographers, in Jerusalem.
Figure 1. This woodcut appeared in a chronicle of a pilgrimage to Jerusalem in the 15th Century by Bernhard von Breidenbach, a canon of Mainz, Germany. It was published in 1486.
Figure 2. This copper engraved print, set in a page of
text and titled "The Temple of the Sepulchre," was by an anonymous
engraver and was based on a drawing by George Sandys. It was published
in 1621 in Sandys' Relation of a Journey begun An Dom. 1610, Second Edition. (Author's collection)
2 is somewhat unique in that it does not show the second floor windows
above the entrance doors. Later drawings
and photos, starting in the early 19th Century, show the windows and
almost all also a small ladder resting on the ledge below the
upper right hand window. Figures 3-11 are examples of those drawings
3. This 1834 illustration is the
earliest I have found in which the ladder appears. It is resting on the
ledge below the right hand window above the
entrance. Drawn by C. Stanfield, engraved by E. Finden, published by J.
Murray, London, 1834. Steel engraved print with recent hand
colour. (Author's collection)
Figure 4. Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Engraved by E. Challis after a drawing by W. H. Bartlett, published in The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire,
about 1850. Steel engraved print. This is the only 19th century print I
have found that does not show the ladder in the right hand window above
the entrance door ... but see below. (Author's collection)
Figure 5. A close-up of the windows in Figure 3 shows a difference in
the drawing of the stone building blocks below the two windows. Perhaps
the engraver, thinking the ladder gave the drawing a cluttered look,
removed it during the engraving process.
Figure 6. Entrance to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre showing pilgrims
buying rosaries and other relics in the forecourt. Published in Picturesque Palestine, about 1870. Wood engraved print with recent hand colour. (Author's collection)
Figure 7. The photo on the left was taken
about 1875 by Felix Bonfils, a noted 19th century Holy Land
photographer. The closer view on the right focuses on the entrance and
the window with the ladder. (Authors collection)
Figure 8. The photo on the left appeared in
the Jerusalem section of John L. Stoddard's Lectures, Vol. II,
published in 1897. The same photo has appeared elsewhere with a date of
1868. The main part of the entrance in the Stoddard photo is shown
enlarged on the right. (Author's collection)
shown below in Figures 9-11 were purchased from www.corbis.com, an internet source for old photos.
In each pair of photos, the original photo is on the left with an
enlargement of the entrance on the right showing the ladder.
Figure 9. This photo, dated 1870s, is very
similar to Figure 7. However, a close examination
shows subtle differences, e.g., the shadows, the figure at the door,
and a different arrangement of pots on the balcony next to the ladder. (Author's collection)
Figure 10. This photo, dated 1870-1910, was
taken from the same location as the previous two photos. In this
instance the entrance door was open slightly. (Author's collection)
Figure 11. Each year, a sacred event called
the Descent of the Holy Fire occurs in the Edicule inside the rotunda
of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. In this photo, dated mid-20th
century (but possibly from an earlier period), a man carrying the holy
fire is borne aloft by a crowd of Russian pilgrims (far left side of
left photo) as they depart from the church after observing the ceremony. (Authors collection)
In most of the
above drawings and photos, covering nearly a century, the ladder is
always present. It obviously has a special meaning.
Historic Image Gallery Created: 1999
Last update: 2/28/15
The Church and the Ladder: Frozen in Time
Archaeology: Exploring the Holy Land