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Chapel of the Division of the Raiment


Within the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, a hallway from the Crusader era along the eastern side houses several small chapels that mark significant events on the crucifixion. These chapels include the Chapel of the Division of the Raiment which is an Armenian chapel. This chapel recalls that the soldiers drew lots, rather than tearing the cloth, to see who would keep the garments of Jesus Christ.

Description

Approaching the Chapel of the Division of the Raiment, a worshipper would notice that there are three steps leading up to the altar of the chapel. At the top of the steps is a short fence that is made of iron work and is a golden color. A single panel of the fence serves as a gate and can be opened to access the chapel. Five lamps hang down from the ceiling and land in front of the altar.

The most prominent feature of this chapel is the ornate and striking canopy that covers the altar. The altar itself is made of white marble and has a cross sitting upon it. Behind the cross is a large arched picture of Mary, the mother of Jesus surrounded by other figures. The canopy is made of a red-tinted marble with black veins running through it. The floor of the canopy, made of matching marble, is one step up from the floor of the chapel. Four columns hold the marble top that is arched to span from column to column. On top of the arches sits an octagonal shaped cupola that also is made of the same red and black marble. A roof sits on the cupola that joins at a point and has a sun-shaped sculpture sitting on the very top of the canopy. Extremely detailed, the canopy over the altar is an incredible sight to see. The back wall of the chapel is the stone wall that makes up the structure of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Three banners of tapestry stand around the back stone wall of the chapel that has pictures of Christ on them.

Significance

The Chapel of the Division of the Raiment signifies an important part of the crucifixion. Psalms 22:18 prophesied that the clothing of the Messiah would be divided up with those receiving the clothing casting lots to see who would get what piece of clothing. According to John 19:24, that is exactly what the soldiers crucifying Jesus did.

The Armenian Orthodox Church which oversees this chapel claims its apostolic succession through Bartholomew and Thaddeus. First, Thaddeus cured Abgar V of Edessa of leprosy and Abgar was then converted. Then, Abgar sent Thaddeus throughout Armenia sharing the gospel and converting people to Christianity. Thaddeus converted the daughter of King Sanatruk to Christianity. However, later the daughter and Thaddeus were martyred by the king. Bartholomew then came to Armenia to continue the proclamation of the gospel to that part of the world. Bartholomew shared with and eventually converted the sister of King Sanatruk. Again, the king had his sister and Bartholomew executed. Both apostles had ordained bishops that were from Armenia before they died. This is the leadership that the Armenian Orthodox Church built on. This church is who cares for and leads the worship in the Chapel of the Division of the Raiment.

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