For twelfth-century pilgrims and patrons, monuments in the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem (1099-1187 CE) were sanctified by their association with the events and figures of scriptural narrative. The design and decoration of the structures staged encounters between medieval present users and the biblical past, presenting architecture as an enduring material witness to textual truth. This connection to an authoritative antiquity, however, was reconfigured in the aftermath of the First Crusade through both rhetoric and restoration. This paper presents the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and the Church of the Nativity as two facets of this dynamic, and situates them within the context of my ongoing research. In the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, I argue that the twelfth-century spaces positioned Jerusalem’s Latin Christian community as the revivers of the Resurrection commemorated on the site. In the Church of the Nativity, I ask how we can understand Bethlehem’s medieval mosaic images and inscriptions as a testimony of local Christian practice and positions, and as evidence of a continuous monumental dialogue within the landscape.
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