Tuesday, April 07, 2020
Last Time Jerusalem's Church of the Holy Sepulchre Shut Its Doors For An Extended Time Was In 1349 (The Black Death)
The Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem closed its doors to the public on March 25 because of the coronavirus pandemic. The last occasion for shuttering the church for an extended period of time was the Black Death in 1349.
The Nusseibehs, one of the city's oldest Muslim families, was entrusted sometime around 1190 with the duty of opening and closing the church doors. The family still has that responsibility, along with an original 800+-year-old key (!). A video of the locking up was posted to Twitter.
The Catholic Herald reported that the church was expecting to be closed for only one week, but religious and Israeli government officials agreed the church should remain closed during the ongoing pandemic.
The church, was consecrated on September 13, 335, claims to contain the site where Jesus was crucified and his tomb. The Herald stated the church "has been closed for short periods of time in the subsequent millennia due to war or other disputes" (like a tax protest in 2018).