Where was the first Templar Church on Temple Mount?

In about 1120 King Baldwin II decided to lend his palace at what now is called the Al-Acsa Mosque, temporarily to the juvenil Templar Order. Its Primitive Rule (after 1129, TN) implies that their compound at the palace, after having come into Templar hands, would have comprised a refectory, a chapel or church, a chapter house, and an infirmary. Where was in the early days that church?

"In the southeastern part of the Aqsa Mosque are three chambers that contain Templar vestiges. The central chamber, the present-day rectangular Mosque of the Forty, originally had in its east an apse whose remains were observed by scholars in the nineteenth century. The outline of the suppressed apse and a part of its semi-dome became temporarily visible, from within the mosque, during restoration works in 1982, and photographs were taken by Pringle. From the outside, the apse’s size can be gauged by the straight segment that replaced it, as its texture clearly differs from the suppressed apse. Pringle convincingly argued that the apse marked the eastern end of the Templars’ original place of worship, yet he could not determine how far westward this oratory extended. (...)

A photograph taken during the (1940 to 1945) demolition works at the Aqsa Mosque  (necessary after the 1937 earthquake, TN) may throw some light on the extent of the original Templar place of worship. (...) (All available information combined, TN) It is conceivable that the early aecclesia of the Templar Primitive Rule consisted of a nave (the present-day Mosque of the Forty) and of a northern aisle (the present-day Mihrāb Zakarīya), and possibly also of a southern one, later superseded by a Mamluk structure (the present-day Mosque of ‘Umar), all three of which were covered by the gabled roof. (...)

This early Templar aecclesia may well have extended as far west as the area of the dome. This sizeable church would have served as the Order’s main place of worship until it was superseded by the ‘new church of astonishing size and workmanship’ that Theoderich saw west of the erstwhile mosque around 1172."

This blog quotes edited fragments of the paper "Vestiges of Templar presence in the Aqsa Mosque" by Benjamin Z. Kedar, from: The Templars and their Sources, Edited By Karl Borchardt, Karoline Döring, Philippe Josserand, Helen Nicholson (2017, Routledge). The illustration shows the southern corner of the eastern facade of the present day Al-Aqsa mosque, with the Mosque of the Forty being the protruding square wing left of the segment with the round window, being the probable site of the first Templar Chapel. source. Fair Use intended

 Support TemplarsNow™ by becoming a Patrontipping us or buying one of our Reliable Books

No comments: