The initial building was founded by [[Constantine the Great]] in 335, after he had removed a pagan temple on the site that was possibly the Temple of Aphrodite built by Hadrian. Constantine had sent his mother St. [[Helen]] to find the site; during excavations she is said to have discovered the [[True Cross]]. The church was built around the excavated hill of the Crucifixion and was actually three connected churches built over the three different holy sites, including a great basilica (the ''[[Martyrium]]'' visited by the nun [[Egeria]] in the 380s), an enclosed colonnaded atrium (the ''Triportico'') built around the traditional Rock of Calvary, and a rotunda, called the ''Anastasis'' ("Resurrection"), which contained the remains of the cave that St. Helen and St. [[
Makarios I of Jerusalem|Macarius]], [[Patriarch of Jerusalem]], had identified with the burial site of Jesus. The surrounding rock was cut away, and the Tomb was encased in a structure called the ''Edicule'' (from the Latin ''aediculum'', small building) in the center of the rotunda. The dome of the rotunda was completed by the end of the 4th century.
This building was damaged by fire in 614 when the Persians under [[w:Khosrau II|Khosrau II]] invaded Jerusalem and captured the Cross. In 630, Emperor [[Heraclius]], who had captured the Cross from the Persians, marched triumphantly into Jerusalem and restored the True Cross to the rebuilt Church of the Holy Sepulchre.