(Good) Friday I’m in Love (My Apologies to The Cure)

In the 130s A.D., the Roman emperor Hadrian rebuilt Jerusalem as a pagan city named Aelia Capitolina. On the site of the Temple Mount, he built a temple to Jupiter Capitolinus, and on the site of Calvary and the Holy Sepulcher he built a temple to Venus, the goddess of love. What I find interesting is that Friday is the day of Venus. In most Romance languages, the word for Friday is literally “Venus’ day” (Venerdì, Viernes, Vendredi). The English “Friday” is from “Frige’s day” or “Freya’s Day,” Frige and Freya being Germanic equivalents of Venus.

So Hadrian built a temple to the “Friday goddess,” the goddess of love, on the site of Calvary, the site Christians associate with the revelation of God’s love on Good Friday. But what the devil meant as an act of desecration, parody, and burlesque, God turned to irony. After Constantine’s conversion, the Christians leveled the temple of Venus, erected the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, and dedicated “Venus’ day” to penance for sin and the commemoration of Christ’s victory over the devil.

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