I was reading a National Geographic article about the recent restoration work done at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Israel in which the stone slab that covered the supposed resting place of Jesus was removed. According to the article, it went on to say:

...it was first identified by Helena, mother of the Roman emperor Constantine, in A.D. 326.

I researched a bit more about Helena's visit to Jerusalem and came upon another article that had this to say about her visit:

The site was identified in the year 326, when the Emperor Constantine’s mother Helena went on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land in search of relics from the time of Christ. She asked the residents of Jerusalem where the site of Jesus’ tomb was, and they directed her to a spot where a pagan temple now stood. We might be justifiably sceptical that the people in Jerusalem at that time would have known where Jesus’ tomb once was and suspect that out of deference to the Emperor’s mother they pointed to some site.

Read more: http://www.reasonablefaith.org/excavating-the-tomb-of-jesus#ixzz4QDzpfrWk

Does anyone know the source for this claim? Specifically want to research more on Helena asking residents of Jerusalem where the site of the tomb was.

  • 1
    I'm not sure at this stage of the source of this information, but do know that it was the bishop of Jerusalem who 'identified' the true cross for Helena. – Dick Harfield Nov 17 '16 at 7:56

The entry for Helena in a 1911 Dictionary of Christian Christian Biography and Literature to the end of the sixth century [etc] includes a review of "the evidence of the ancient authorities" regarding the story of her finding the true cross. The given summaries of 15 works attributed to authors writing from 333 to 595AD incidentally include several mentions of the tomb. That selection of ancient authorities may serve as a reading list for your research.

While the authors of the Dictionary conclude that "no detailed story [of the cross] is found until nearly 70 years after the event, and then in the West only", mentions of accepted knowledge of the site of the tomb begin with the first source reviewed.

(The link refers to clean-looking OCR. The same site offers b&w page scans. If you care about pages images, archive.org has much better scans from a few different copies of the print book.)

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