Mamluk Inscription of the Armenian Monastery of St. James: Evidence of Historical Justice

Located above the main entrance to the Armenian Monastery of St. James in Jerusalem, an elaborately carved inscription in Arabic serves as a powerful historical testament to the enduring Armenian presence in the Holy City. This inscription, dating back to the reign of Mamluk Sultan Jakmak, goes beyond mere decoration—it bears witness to a pivotal decree that brought relief to the monastery.

A Decree of Mercy

The skillfully engraved inscription on stone commemorates Sultan Jakmak’s abolition of certain taxes levied on the monastery. This act of mercy transcends mere administrative decisions; it represents a moment when justice was restored to a community that has woven itself into the fabric of Jerusalem for centuries.

A Sacred Curse

The words etched into the stone carry a weighty curse for anyone who would dare to tax or perpetrate injustice upon this holy place: “Cursed is he, and may he be the son of a cursed [father], and may the curse of God Almighty be upon him who taxes or causes injustice [to this holy place].” These strong expressions underscore the sanctity of the monastery and the protective mantle provided by Sultan Jakmak’s decree.

A Beacon of Heritage

The Armenian Monastery of Saint James, a 12th-century architectural gem, stands as a testament to Armenian heritage in Jerusalem. The inscription above its entrance serves as a poignant reminder of the historical challenges faced by the Armenian community and their unwavering resilience. It also highlights the significance of the Armenian Quarter within the Old City—a place where history and culture intersect.

A Bridge to the Past

Today, the Armenian Monastery of St. James remains a pilgrimage site and a space for reflection, not only for Armenians but for all who appreciate the rich tapestry of Jerusalem’s history. The Mamluk Inscription acts as a bridge, inviting visitors to contemplate the enduring legacy of the Armenian people in the Holy Land.


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