Monks Brawl at the Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem

Chris Sig
Watch the video here.

I wish there was a way to embed the video here but I couldn’t figure it out. Definitely watch it. The monks are vicious!

When I was there two summers ago, I had the distinct impression that the monks were a bunch of cranky old farts who were unhealthily obsessed with the rituals surrounding the holy site. I chatted with some of the shop owners right outside the church and they told me there is constant tension between the six different denominations that claim rights to it. Their conflict is obviously theological, but it’s also merely administrative. There are so many rituals carried out every week and each ritual must be done a certain way. As you can imagine, the risk for overlap and thus, conflict, is high.



  1. Check out this article. It gives background to the fight. It also sort of makes the monks and fighting churches look ridiculous.

    Apparently, Protestants aren’t the only ones to have silly fights and competitions.

    There is something ironically prophetic about the roof crumbling around and the Christians fighting rather than fixing them problem.

    And doubly ironic?; that it is a Muslim family that keeps the key, perhaps we should get the Muslims to help negotiate all of our fights.


  2. Why do you care? It’s not your holy site. The last time I checked, protestants don’t have holy sites. The muslims keeping the keys are a by-product of the political realities in the middle east. It’s easy to criticize when your enjoying a fat lazy life in the US. I’ll bet if a protestant church was taken over by another denomination just because that group thinks they have a “right” to do so would start be a brawl.


  3. Jean,

    There is no need to be nasty. Even Protestants put their trust in our Lord. And I’m not Protestant, I’m Anglican. We certainly have holy sites, indeed the Holy Sepulcre is every Christian’s holy site, that is why I care. If Jesus wasn’t raised, then my faith is in vain!

    And I happen to be under the average weight for my height.

    Even the correct faith, without love, makes you nothing. There is nothing wrong with disagreeing, there is something wrong with being uncharitable.


  4. Jean

    I’m really happy that you’re visiting our blog and that something interested you enough to want to leave a comment. But to be honest, I fail to see what you’re hoping to accomplish with this argument.

    Perhaps the original post and our subsequent remarks were a little snide and insensitive. If so, I’m sorry we angered you. You’re right that we do live in the USA and such things are very foreign and (to be honest) strange to us.

    Perhaps you could contribute something to the discussion here that would help us understand your worldview better?


  5. There are five of us who blog here. The person who said “farts” is the only person who has been to Jerusalem.

    I neither said that nor have I been there.


  6. Jean ~
    Welcome to the website.
    I am a bit confused by your question:
    “Calling people “farts” isn’t nasty or uncharitable?”
    … in lieu of your previous statement:
    “It’s easy to criticize when your enjoying a fat lazy life in the US. I’ll bet if a protestant church was taken over by another denomination just because that group thinks they have a “right” to do so would start be a brawl.”

    Protestants do have Holy Sites, they are still Catholic Christians – just not Roman Catholic Christians. I think you might be confusing this with Holy ‘Rites’. In which case, I would argue this would also be incorrect – as our rites are just less embellished and bureaucratic.

    Your assumption above is comical as the writer of this post is currently traveling the world, bikes and runs every day and finished college in three years while holding two part-time jobs.

    So not only are your assumptions unfounded but in your angst against a man’s off hand comments you decided to make more unfair and hypocritical statements.

    AND – Next time you want to quote Holy Scripture to a group of people don’t exclude them from your Christian community before you do so! The scriptures are written to be used in a loving community, as a non-protestant you should know this better than us.


  7. I’m not trying to accomplish anything. I’m just pointing out that calling clergy members or monastics names is also uncharitable. It’s also disrespectful. I have been to Jerusalem too, and to many monastic communities. Monks are human beings, and they often get carried away just like we (especially me) do. Who among us (and me more than most)don’t cast a negative light on the way of Christ? I felt that the way protestants jumped on this story is hypocritical. I guess I’m just as bad as those monks.

    I’m not excluding you. I just pointed out that the Church of the Holy Sepulcher is not a protestant (and in your case an Anglican) site. I don’t think it’s a Roman Catholic site. It’s an Orthodox church. It has always been an Orthodox church. That site does not belong to every Christian group. In reality, it is an Orthodox Church that must conform to the political realities of the time. I don’t think we should make judgments on those monks…either group. They’re surviving in very tough environment. Sure, it’s negative that two Orthodox groups got carried away and had a very (unfortunate) public altercation. But honestly, has not the Anglican (and every other denomination) in some way had a very public altercation in some form? That is as shameful.

    I’m not calling anyone fat! I’m sorry that I offended you in that way. I’m pointing out that in the West, it’s easy for Americans and Europeans (because of our easy lifestyle) to make hasty and crass statements about Christians in the Middle East when we’re not having to suffer like they do.

    My worldview…it’s ironic that Christians in the West (of which I am one) castigate these monks when our government’s support of the Israeli government and virtually every islamic government has led to the loss of holy sites throughout the middle east as well as an almost wholesale depopulation of Christians in the West Bank. You may disagree with that but the weapons that have driven out Orthodox Christians in Turkey, Syria, Iraq, Egypt, and Israel are made in the West and sold by the Western governments. Our tacit support of that is more shameful than a brawl over who’s going to repair what in a church building.

    Please blog about that. I’m sorry I offended you.



  8. That’s certainly fair enough Jean. Perhaps it was because we had no history before you stumbled across our site? Either way, there is no damage done…You are right that I can get plenty carried away (just ask my wife!)

    From the news articles I have read, the brawls are rather consistent and take place periodically; ironically more often during holy days. Even if the church is Orthodox, there are multiple Orthodox groups there, all in the same faith, and they are still fighting. What’s frustrating for me, is that all of the compacted drama only speaks poorly of the Lord we worship.

    I doubt Chris, our original poster, would make light of the problems created in the Middle East by our Western involvement…You should here him talk about politics over there (in fact he is traveling over there to teach English in Jordan) I don’t know about all that rapture stuff, and why certain Christians support Israel with no reservations; but injustice is never ok, even if it brings about (in their mind) the Second Coming.

    And whether or not the building itself is Orthodox or whatever, certainly, the reported site of the Resurrection belongs to every believer, even if not by title and deed, surely in the very inmost part of our beings.

    Thanks Jean,
    Keep stopping by


  9. I certainly painted ‘with broad strokes.’ Please forgive me for that. You are right; Christ belongs to all people; the places that He sanctified with His presence is for all mankind. Thank you for reminding me of that.


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