Settling of Scores at the Holy Sepulchre

In 1808, a great fire destroyed a large part of the Holy Sepulchre Basilica. The Greek Orthodox who, according to the Franciscans, had set the fire deliberately, were allowed by the Turks to rebuild the church. During the reconstruction, a few Crusader tombs disappeared. We know of the existence of two of the missing tombs from several descriptions written by travellers before the fire: the tomb of Godfrey de Bouillon , Jerusalem's conqueror and of his brother Baldwin I, the first Crusader King of Jerusalem.

The Franciscans still hold the Greeks responsible for destroying the Crusader tombs. This longstanding animosity between the denominations is not unusual, as scores have languished unsettled for centuries between the two Christian communities. ( During the sack of Constantinople in 1204, for example, a prostitute was made to sit on the Greek Patriarch's throne.)

It was only by chance that one Crusader tomb was not destroyed, thanks to the Muslim guardians of the church. Until 1867, these Turkish guards used a bench just outside the entrance to sit and smoke their nargileh. The bench happened to be positioned right over a Crusader tomb, which was thus spared.

To which lucky Crusader did the tomb belong?

Today it is covered by wooden planks , but we have an old reproduction of the tomb where it is still clearly visible. From the inscription on the gravestone we can guess the tomb belongs to an English Knight, Philip d'Aubigny. He was the preceptor of Henry III, the King of England, and one of the signatories of the Magna Carta. He came to the Holy Land in 1222 for the first time and escorted Frederick II to Jerusalem in 1229. He died in 1236 after spending fourteen years in the Holy Land and asked to be buried near the sepulchre of Jesus Christ.

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