"Holy door" of the church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem (based on Georgian historical materials)
Authors: Besik Khurtsilava
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The door to the present Church of the Holy Sepulchre (or the Church of
the Resurrection of Christ) appeared during the reign of the Crusaders in
Jerusalem. In fact, this (this is a metal frame) has not changed for centuries.
Only the wood panel of the outer surface of the door has been replaced
several times over the past centuries.
Once, in 1514, Beena Cholokashvili, ambassador of King George II of Kakheti
(1464–1513), initiated this modification. This fact is also mentioned in an
Arabic historical document dated January 23, 1514.
According to one version, despite the fire that occurred in the church in 1808,
metal locks on the doors were also not replaced. According to another version,
this happened later, during the Ottoman rule, in the first quarter of the XVI century.
Georgian historical sources ("Kartlis Tskhovreba", "Dzegli Eristavta") tell us
that in the middle of the 14th century the key to the Holy Sepulchre (the
tomb of Jesus) or, possibly, the entire Church of the Holy Sepulchre belonged
to the Georgians. This information is confirmed in his notes by the German
pilgrim Ludolf von Sudheim (+1341).
Since the conquest of Jerusalem by the Sultan Salah ad-Din (1187–1193), two
Muslim families — Judeh and Nussaiba have appeared in the orbit of the Church
of the Resurrection. They, by tradition, are still responsible for protecting the
church door and its key. However, according to the Nussaiba family tradition,
these responsibilities have been assigned to them since the reign of caliph
Umar ibn al-Khattab (634–644). The historical documents available in their
family archive do not give rise to a statement about the existence of such a fact
in such an early period. All these documents show only the presence of the
indicated functions from the time of Ottoman rule in Palestine.