At first, it may seem like the fertile imagination of a novelist—that the Temple treasures were hidden in a church. And I can’t prove beyond a reasonable doubt that they were. But the suggestion has plausibility, buttressed by some fascinating history and impressive archaeological remains.
I start with Procopius, the court historian of the Roman emperor Justinian (527–565 C.E.). At the summit of Byzantine glory, in the sixth century, Procopius describes a massive church Justinian built in Jerusalem. Unlike other churches in the Holy City, it was not constructed on a site of Biblical significance. Justinian called it the “New Church of Mary, 1the Mother of God,” commonly known as the Nea (Greek for “New”).