A Crusader-Era High Altar Resurfaces in Jerusalem’s Holy Sepulcher
For decades it was known only as the “graffiti stone.” Leaning against a wall in a shadowy corner of Jerusalem’s Holy Sepulcher, the big blank rock the size of a dining-room table invited scribbling by passing pilgrims and tourists.
But two Israeli researchers who recently examined the other side of the stone say the neglected artifact appears to be part of the high altar fashioned in the early 12th century by medieval Crusaders for the holiest church in Christendom, and upon which Mass was celebrated for more than 500 years. The stone’s intricate design, they add, is based on what was the latest Roman style and suggests a direct link to the papacy itself. The revelation highlights the complicated religious politics that still trouble Jerusalem.