Church of Saint Anne
The Church of St. Anne is located in the northern part of the Old City, near Lion’s Gate. The site is one of the two possible birthplaces for the Virgin Mary and protects the archaeological remains of the Pools of Bethesda. The church is named after St. Anne, the mother of Mary, who lived here with her husband Joachim. A church was already built here in the 5th century on top of the 3rd century remains of the Pools of Bethesda. Shortly after the Crusader destruction of the city in 1099, the church came into the hands of the Benedictine Order. At that time, the church went through a remodeling phase and a dome was added to the roof. The Romanesque-style Church of St. Anne that we see today, however, was built in 1140 by the Crusader kings. It is said that Evette, the daughter of Baldwin II, and Arda, the wife of Baldwin I had joined the Benedictine monastery and were behind the construction. When the Muslims captured Jerusalem by Saladin in 1187, the church became an important Muslim school (madrasa). Sometime during the beginning of the Turkish period, however, the school was abandoned and the structure became a storage facility. In 1835, some of the structure was actually destroyed and used for building materials for a nearby building. In 1841, there was an attempt to convert the building into a mosque and a minaret was even built on the spot. The church however would be given by the Sultan Abd al-Majid to the French government after the Crimean War to serve as the French consulate. The French would allow the White Missionary Fathers of Africa to hold the site, in whose hands it remains to this day.
When Jerusalem fell to Saladin in the year 1187, the Church of Saint Anne was converted into a Muslim school (madrasa). The inscription above the main doorway tells it all:
"In the name of God, Clement and Merciful. Whatever you possess comes from Him. This blessed madrasa, as a religious…