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The Prison

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Was Jesus Detained in this Prison?

Location – Church of the Holy Sepulcher

Map Coordinates -31.778460, 35.229556

At the end of the Arches of the Virgin, just before you enter the Ambulatory is the chapel of the Prison of Christ and the two thieves that were condemned with Him - a chapel owned by the Greek Orthodox Church. The first known mention of Jesus being put into this prison here is in the 8th century, by Epiphanius the Monk.

There are several places still in existence in Jerusalem that claim to be prisons of Christ.  However, there does not seem to be any reason why Jesus would have been imprisoned in between his trial with Pontius Pilate, and His crucifixion. 

The Leg Stocks.

The leg stocks outside the prison.

One of the remnants of this prison was this leg stock, where a prisoner’s legs would have been slipped through these holes, and then shackled at the angles, so that the prisoner could not escape.

Inside the Prison.

It is not likely that this prison existed during the crucifixion of Jesus, because it was outside the city walls, and there is no mention in the Gospels of Jesus spending time in a prison at the base of mount Golgotha.


Why is there a prison here inside the Holy Sepulcher? 

When the city of Jerusalem was enlarged in 44 AD, there was probably a prison built on this very spot. And the leg stocks outside the door of this prison could very well have been one of the features of this room.

This prison was probably built after Jesus was crucified, but before there was a church built here. This means that when the church was built, it was easy for the builders to imagine a prison being part of the construction.

It is likely that when the Crusaders saw a prison here, they assumed that it had been here since the time of Jesus, when, in fact, it was built on this site after 44 AD. So the assumption that Jesus was an occupant at this prison is erroneous, but understandable.   

Today, at the very best, this is probably a commemorative chapel, which serves as a liturgical station where one can pray and contemplate the imprisonment of Jesus during His passion.

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