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The Church of the Holy Sepulchre

April 14, 2022

Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulchre is one of the holiest sites in the Christian world. Despite rules governing its shared use amongst different denominations, conflicts arise time and again.

Jerusalem Grabeskirche Rotunde Ädikula Grab Jesus
Image: Getty Images/AFP/T. Coex
Jerusalem Grabeskirche
Image: N. Asfour

Members of six Christian denominations — Greek Orthodox, Catholic, Armenian, Coptic, Syrian Orthodox and Ethiopian — live and pray in Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which was consecrated in 335 AD. There are different prayer times and precise divisions within the church.

Israel | Kirchenführer schließen aus Protest die Grabeskirche auf unbestimmte Zeit
Image: Reuters/A. Cohen

The authority known as the Power of the Keys is shared by two Muslim families. One keeps the ancient key, the other opens the gate. Time and again, there are disputes between different religious communities over the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, sometimes resulting in physical altercations.

Dokumentation " Das Heilige Grab Jesu Christi  - Ein ewiger Streit"
Image: Go2Films

Armenian Father Samuel calls the church his home, saying he must "defend" it against the neighboring Greek Orthodox community. The film also features Coptic priest Antonius and Ethiopian Father Zion, between whose sects there is an ongoing conflict.

Dokumentation " Das Heilige Grab Jesu Christi  - Ein ewiger Streit"
Image: Go2Films

Israeli police are responsible for security and respecting the fragile status quo between Christian groups, Muslims and the state of Israel, under the leadership of Christian police officer Johnny Kassabri. The film takes viewers behind the scenes of the church, showing the people for whom this place of worship has become home.

Broadcasting Hours: 

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FRI 15.04.2022 – 01:15 UTC
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