The Chapel of Adam
Under the Cross of Jesus
Location – Church of the Holy Sepulcher
Map Coordinates - 31.778460, 35.229556
This is one of the oldest rooms in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem – the traditional site where Jesus died and rose from the dead. This is the Chapel of Adam, and it was originally a man-made cave that was created by hollowing out part of the hill of Mount Golgotha - the hill on which Jesus was crucified. Right above the altar in the Chapel of Adam, above the ceiling, is the place where the cross of Jesus stood.
Who created this man-made cave? This was probably carved sometime before 135 AD, which is when the Roman emperor Hadrian built on this site the pagan temple to the goddess Venus. Two hundred years later the Christian Empress Helena approved the construction of a church here, and so the builders turned this cave into a chapel. When they did this, they called this room The Church of Golgotha.
We don’t know when, but sometime after that the name of this room was changed to The Chapel of Adam. Why did that happen? Here’s the reason. All six of the denominations which have control over various parts of this church teach that something very special happened in this room, and it has to do with Adam, the first man on earth, according to the book of Genesis. According to another ancient Jewish book, called The Second Book of Adam, Adam was buried at this location. And if that’s true, it means that Jesus died directly over the grave of Adam.
There is a large mosaic just outside this chapel, and on it you can see a skull in a cave under the cross of Jesus. Every denomination in this church teaches that this is Adam’s skull. That’s why this room is called the Chapel of Adam.
The Bench on the North Side (left as you walk in).
The benches on the sides of the Chapel of Adam.
Before there was a bench here there was a coffin, also called a sarcophagus - a tomb where someone is buried. The same thing is true of the bench on the opposite side of the room. There was a sarcophagus there too.
So who was buried here? Here’s the story. Even though this church was built by Christians, it hasn’t always been in the hands of the Church. There were two times when this church was controlled by the Muslims. The first time was when the Muslims captured Jerusalem in 637 AD. That occupation lasted four and a half centuries, until this country was recaptured by the Crusaders from Europe.
The Crusaders were soldiers who were fighting on behalf of the Catholic Church. The man who led the first wave of Crusaders into this city was Godfrey of Bullion from France, capturing the city of Jerusalem from the Muslims in 1099 AD. He held this city for two years until his death, and during that time everyone wanted to call him the King of Jerusalem. However, Godfrey rejected this title.
Instead he wanted to be called the Defender of the Holy Sepulcher, because he believed that the true King of Jerusalem was Jesus Christ. In fact, he is quoted as saying, “I will not wear a crown of gold when our Lord wore a crown of thorns.” After Godfrey died, he was buried on this spot, and his brother took over. That’s what the bench on the other side of the room is all about.
The Bench on the South Side (right as you walk in).
The man who was buried here was Baldwin I, the brother of Godfrey of Bouillon. Unlike this brother, Godfrey, Baldwin called himself the king of Jerusalem, which started in 1100 AD.
Both Godfrey and Baldwin wanted to be buried in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, and this was the room where their bodies were laid. In reality these two tombs were moved around to various parts of the church, but they were here at one time.
These are actual drawings that were made of the tombs of both Godfrey of Bullion and Baldwin I.
The Crusaders didn’t rule the Holy Land for very long, and the Muslims once again took control of Jerusalem in 1187 AD. Just a few years after this, the bodies of Godfrey and Baldwin were removed from their tombs and desecrated by the Muslims, which means that they probably just threw them away. But they didn’t get rid of the tombs. They only disposed of the bodies. About 600 years later, in the year 1808, the actual stone tombs of these two Catholic soldiers, Godfrey and Baldwin, were also destroyed, not by Muslims, but reportedly by Greek Orthodox priests.
The Window Behind the Altar.
The window in the apse of the Chapel of Adam, showing the crack in Hill of Golgotha.
The most interesting thing about this room is the glass window in the apse of this chapel. An apse is the curved wall behind the altar of any chapel. If you look in this window the rock that you see is part of the remains of Mount Golgotha – the hill on which Jesus died. Running up and down this rock you can see a crack. Many people believe this crack was created in this hill at the moment that Jesus was crucified.
Ancient explorers discover the crack in Mount Golgotha.
Mathew 27:50 says that when Jesus died, “…the earth shook, and the rocks were split.” In other words, there was an earthquake. Here you see the evidence of this earthquake. Scientists have already determined that there was, in fact, an earthquake near Jerusalem sometime between 25 and 35 AD - the same period in which Jesus died.