Church of St John the Baptist, Jerusalem
On leaving the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem we turn right and continue west into Christian Quarter Street. Turning left along this street, we come in some 40m/45yds to the entrance (on right) of the Crusader church of St John the Baptist, built about 1170. It stands to the rear of a forecourt which is entered through a doorway marked with a cross. Built into the facade are re-used Roman stones. The church, on a trefoil plan without a nave, is now occupied by the Greek Orthodox. Facing the entrance, which is at the west end, is the wide iconostasis, behind which are the eastern conch and the altar. To left and right are the north and south conches.The church occupies the site of an earlier building, a chapel of the fifth century. This is now the crypt of the later church, but, as the old window openings show, it originally stood on ground level. A crystal reliquary found here, originally hidden to save it from the Arabs, is said now to be preserved in the treasury of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher (not open to the public). This first church was dedicated to St John the Compassionate, Patriarch of Alexandria.The church belonged to the pilgrim hospice which was founded here in 1073 - before the first Crusade - by merchants from the Italian maritime republic of Amalfi. Here too was founded the order of the Knights of St John or Knights Hospitallers (Ordo militiae Sancti Ioanni Baptistae hospitalis Hierosolymitani), the establishment of which was confirmed by Pope Pascal II in 1113, when the church was re-dedicated to St John the Baptist. It is venerated by the British Knights of St John as their mother church. The hospice complex occupies the area between David Street and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and between Christian Quarter Street and Khan ez-Zeit Street. Vaulting belonging to the Hospitallers' establishment can still be seen in David Street. The tradition of the hospice was preserved in Jerusalem after the end of the Crusader period in 1187, and the area to the north of David Street is still known as the Muristan, a Persian/Arabic word meaning "hospital".
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