In God’s Land: Where Jesus Resurrected

15 09 2019

We continue on the footprints of Christ, today we visited the Church of the Holy Sepulcher also called the Church of the Resurrection, located in the Christian quarters of the old Jerusalem.

Church of the Resurrection or Church of the Holy Sepulcher

The church contains the two holiest sites in Christianity: the site where Jesus of Nazareth was crucified, at a place known as Calvary or Golgotha, and Jesus’ empty tomb, where he was buried and resurrected. Archeological excavations revealed that the area was a quarry in the years since seventh century BC and in first BC and leveled into a garden. In this garden two tomb was carved, one a single burial with an arch and the other, multiple burial chamber. The single burial chamber was built by Joseph Arimathea as the tomb of Christ.

The place remained a garden till 135 AD when Emperor Adrian who wanted to exterminate Christianity expanded Jerusalem to encompass Golgotha, and built a shrine to Jupiter directly above tomb of Christ and a shine to Adonis over Calvary, the spot of the crucifixion, in attempt to conceal them from the flock of pilgrims who started going to venerate the site after the death and resurrection of Christ. Adrian’s actions inadvertently helped preserve the site in tact till 325 when Constantine came and built a Byzantine basilica over the tomb.
The Church of the Holy Sepulcher has a long history, but today, control of the church itself is shared among several Christian denominations and two Muslim families that open the door of the Sepulcher every morning by 5 am. They knock at the gate of the Church and the orthodox priest opens the window and peeps to be sure that it is the representatives of the two families, he then hands them a ladder so they can climb and open the door with keys. The door is opened by 5.30 am till 9 p.m daily. We arrived by 6 am to say Mass at the Chapel of Crucifixion next to the Chapel of Calvary.

Stone of Anointing

Facing the door of the Church is a Stone of Unction or Anointing, flanked by tall candlesticks and adorned with a row of hanging votive lamps.

This was the stone slab on which Christ’s body was prepared for burial, is a reminder of the devout care lavished on the body of Jesus by Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus after they had taken it down from the Cross. We stopped to kiss the stone and people brought out their holy objects and rosaries to rub on the stone to absorb its sanctity.

Pictures of kissing the stone of Unction

Stone of Anointing

Chapel of Crucifixion

Next, we climbed the narrow steps to Calvary, this site of the crucifixion. There are two chapels almost adjacent to one another. One is the Chapel of Nailing of the Cross and the other is the Chapel of Crucifixion. Enclosed under the alter of the Chapel of Crucifixion is the Rock of Crucifixion on which the Holy Cross of Jesus stood. Pilgrims wait in line to kneel and kiss the stone and rob holy objects on it. We celebrated Mass at the Chapel of Crucifixion.

Kissing the Rock of Crucifixion

Pictures of the Mass at the Chapel of Nailing of the Cross

Adam’s Chapel

Directly below the Chapel of Crucifixion, stand’s the Adam’s Chapel. There is a crack in the rock displayed under glass – it shows how the rock was broken by the earthquake accompanying Jesus’ death. The tradition is that his blood dripped down through that crack to fall upon Adam’s grave, which was believed to have been within the hill of Golgotha (the place of the skull – i.e. Adam’s skull); this is why directly below the altar with the crucifix there is the Chapel of Adam

The Holy Sepulcher (the tomb of Jesus and where he resurrected)

After the Mass, we joined a long queue of pilgrims waiting to enter the tomb of Christ, the Holy Sepulcher itself, the Place of the resurrection. Picture are not allowed inside the tomb so you wont see me kissing the slab on which Christ resurrected

The rock slab from which Christ Resurrected
Coming out after kissing the Holy Sepulcher

Next we went to the Chapel of finding of the true Cross all thanks to St. Helena


The Chapel of the Finding of the Holy Cross.

According to tradition it was where the Cross of Christ was rediscovered by St. Helena, the mother of the Emperor Constantine, who journeyed to Jerusalem shortly before she died, in approximately 327 AD. St. Ambrose tells the story in words of great poetic force. “Helena arrived and began to visit the holy places, and the Spirit inspired her to seek out the wood of the Cross. She turned her steps to Calvary, and there she said: ‘Here is the battleground, but where is the victor’s trophy? I seek for the banner of salvation and do not find it. Do I sit on a throne, while the Cross of the Lord is buried in the dust? Am I surrounded by gold, and the triumph of Christ by rubble? […] I see that you have done everything possible, O devil, to bury the sword by which you were brought to naught. But Isaac cleared the wells that had been blocked up by foreign invaders, and would not allow the water to remain hidden. Let the ruins give way, then, so that life may appear; let the sword flash forth by which the real Goliath was beheaded. […] What have you achieved, devil, by hiding the wood, save to be defeated once again? You were defeated by Mary, who bore the conqueror; without losing her virginity she gave birth to him who conquered you by being crucified and subjugated you by dying. Today too you will be defeated, so that a woman will lay bare your tricks. She, the holy Mother of God, bore our Lord in her womb; I shall seek out his Cross. She showed that he had been born; I shall show that he has risen from the dead.’”

The story goes on to tell how three crosses were discovered at the bottom of an ancient water-tank, which was transformed into what is now the Chapel of the Finding of the Cross. The Cross of Christ was recognized by the remains of the titulus, the notice that Pilate had ordered to be placed on the Cross; a fragment of this is preserved in the Basilica of the Holy Cross in Rome. Some nails were also found; one of these was wrought into the iron crown of the Holy Roman Emperors, now in Monza, Italy; a second is venerated in the Duomo of Milan, and a third is preserved in Rome.

Other Pictures in the Holy sepulcher



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