FACT CHECK: Did The Church Of The Holy Sepulchre Just Close For The First Time Since The Bubonic Plague?

Jonathan Fonti | Fact Check Reporter

An image shared on Facebook claims the Church of the Holy Sepulchre last closed its doors during the Bubonic Plague in the 1300s.

Verdict: False

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre has closed several times for short periods since 1349.

Fact Check:

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre, located in Jerusalem, is a popular pilgrimage site among Christians, who believe it is the place where Jesus was crucified, buried and resurrected. (RELATED: Viral Image Claims Coronavirus Cannot Spread In Areas With Warm Climates)

Among other places where people typically gather, churches have been temporarily closed in Jerusalem due to lockdowns aimed at curbing the spread of the new coronavirus. The image shows a screen grab of writer David Videcette‘s tweet showing a video of the moment when the Church of the Holy Sepulchre allegedly closed its doors for the first time since 1349.

“This is the moment The Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem was closed due to coronavirus,” part of the tweet reads. “Last time this happened was in 1349, during The Black Death, a bubonic plague epidemic.”

On March 25, the church closed its doors indefinitely to comply with coronavirus lockdown measures in the city of Jerusalem. That closure does not mark the first time its doors have been shut to the public since 1349, however.

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre has actually closed on several occasions since 1349. Most recently, the church closed for three days over a tax dispute between church leaders and Israeli officials in 2018, according to Agence France-Press.

Videcette later amended his statement in a subsequent tweet.

“That’s not to say it’s never been closed,” he tweeted. “It was shut a number of times for very short periods in disputes or protests in 1990, 1999 & 2005. It closed during the 1967 war & there was a ‘lock-in’ over a tax dispute with the Israeli government in 2018.”

The current closure represents the first time since 1349 that the church has closed for an extended period of time, according to Catholic Herald.

Jonathan Fonti

Fact Check Reporter
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