Jerusalem liturgies (XI-XII centuries): preserving and changing to survive

Christian liturgies development in XI century Jerusalem outlines how continuity and discontinuity can combine and alternate to ensure religious community’s survival, even in deeply modified contexts.

In 1009, when fathimid caliph al-Hakim ordered Holy Sepulcher’s total destruction, architectural space for worship disappeared. Thus celebrations continued as in the past (Anastasis Typicon swears to this persistence) and allowed the building reconstruction. In the meanwhile Christian communities identified in the same worship could survive as religious group during Islamic rule, keeping frequent external contacts, mostly with greek world (mid XI century).

From 1099 latin conquerors introduced prominent discontinuity’s elements in the city life and in Christian liturgy itself (regular canons and latin hierarchy had predominant roles and positions and brought their language, hymns and chants). Crusaders yard at Holy Sepulcher got a general rebuilding in the area.

Nevertheless some continuity with agiopolite liturgy has been ensured by specific worship, especially during Holy Week and paschal triduum: processional liturgies performed across the whole city became place for common worship of different and antagonist but coexisting Christian communities (Greeks, Armenians, Siri, Ethiopians, Coptic, monks, hermits).

If latin liturgies became prevalent, christian non latin liturgies had their parallel persistence (antique et nova consuetudo), allowing the whole cosmopolite population to take part in celebrations and ensuring Christian worship continuity longer crusader kingdoms fall and after latin and “western” inhabitants banishment, in 1187.

© Renata Salvarani

paper for XXI International Association for the History of Religions World Congress 2015

Erfurt – August 23-29 2015

Practices and discourses: Innovation and Tradition