Chapel of Saint Helena, Jerusalem

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The Chapel of Saint Helena
Jerusalem-Church of the Holy Sepulcher-The Chapel of St. Helen.jpg
Basic information
Location Jerusalem
Affiliation Armenian Apostolic Church
Country State of Palestine, Israel
Architectural description
Architectural type Crusader
Completed 12th century

The Chapel of Saint Helena is a 12th-century Armenian church in the lower level of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.


In the south east of the chapel there is a chair which was reputed to be a seat that was sat in by Helena, the mother of the Emperor Constantine when she was looking for the True Cross.[1] There are two apses in the church, one dedicated to Saint Helena and one to the penitent thief on the cross. The chapel is modestly adorned in memory of Saint Helena's simplicity.


The chronicler William of Tyre reports on the renovation of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in the mid-12th century. The crusaders investigated the eastern ruins on the site, occasionally excavating through the rubble, and while attempting to reach the cistern where the True Cross was believed to have been found, they discovered part of the original ground level of Hadrian's temple enclosure; they decided to transform this space into a chapel dedicated to Helena, widening their original excavation tunnel into a proper staircase.

During 1973–1978 restoration works and excavations were made in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. To the east of the Chapel of St. Helena, the excavators discovered a void containing a 2nd-century drawing of a Roman ship,[2] two low walls which supported the platform of Hadrian's 2nd-century temple, and a higher 4th century wall built to support Constantine's basilica;[3][4] the Armenian authorities have recently converted this archaeological space into the Chapel of Saint Vartan, and created an artificial walkway over the quarry on the north of the chapel, so that the new Chapel could be accessed (by permission) from the Chapel of St. Helena.

The large decorative floor mosaic is modern, from the 20th century, by the Israeli artist Hava Yofe. Part of it depicts churches in historical Armenia. Despite the images being obviously modern in their representational style, some guides tell visitors the mosaic is antique. [5]

See also[edit]


Coordinates: 31°46′42.4″N 35°13′47.1″E / 31.778444°N 35.229750°E / 31.778444; 35.229750