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History of the site

Four churches have been successively built on the location of the house of Caiaphas.


First church  

Built c. 457 – 460, probably by Empress EUDOCIA. 










Damaged in 529 during the Samaritan revolt.  Destroyed in 614 by the Persians.


Second church      

Built c. 628, probably by MODESTUS, abbot of Saint Theodosius  Monastery. Destroyed in 1009 by Caliph Hakim.









Third church

Built c. 1102 by the Crusaders.  Destroyed in 1219. Replaced by an oratory, itself destroyed between 1293 and 1335.


Fourth church      


Built in the 1920s by Fr. Etienne BOUBET, a. a., who was also the architect and mosaicist. 














Damaged during the war of 1948, then repaired. 





Restored and renovated in 1994-1997 by Fr. Robert FORTIN, a.a., Superior, and Mr. Samir KANDAH, architect.














Like many holy places, the location of the palace of Caiaphas has been debated by archaeologists. 

Many believe that it was located on the property of the Assumptionnists at Saint Peter in Gallicantu. Early pilgrims support this localization.

Such as the famous Anonymous Pilgrim of Bordeaux who came to the Holy Land in 333 : “When leaving Jerusalem for Mount Zion, you can see the pool of Siloam, down in the valley on left hand  near the wall …  As you climb from there to Zion, you come upon the place where the house of Caiaphas once stood and where is still standing the column to which they tied and scourged Jesus.  Inside Zion walls, you can see the place where David used to have his palace".

Since 1888, the excavations conducted by the Assumptionist Father Joseph GERMER-DURAND opened a new period in the understanding of the site. 

The cave, known as “the grotto of Peter’s tears” and venerated until that time by pilgrims, contained no traces of the Byzantine church.  Digging farther north, the excavators uncovered a grotto with marks of an ancient veneration : around the hole made through the ceiling of the grotto, they found three Byzantine crosses engraved in the stone, then four black crosses and seven red ones on the inside walls. 

It is over this grotto that the first Byzantine church has been built, of which the present church is the heir.