Pages

Good Friday at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre - Jerusalem

A year ago, I was blessed to be able to celebrate Good Friday at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem. It is thus only fitting that I look back and reflect on what is undoubtedly the holiest place in all of Christianity, and my pick as the most beautiful church in the world (Italy, France and UK included) in terms of ambiance, history and sheer spiritual weight.


Church of the Holy Sepulchre

* View of the Holy Sepulcher from the Via Dolorosa (Way of the Cross). The beautiful blue dome definitely complements Islam’s Golden Dome of The Rock and helps give Jerusalem its ethereal vibe.



Church of the Holy Sepulchre Entrance

* The entrance of the Holy Sepulcher. The original entrance (now sealed) that the Christian knights used to take back in the Crusades can be seen on the stairs to the right.


Holy Sepulchre Ladder

* In a situation known as the Status Quo, the Church is officially shared by the Eastern Orthodox (Greeks and Russians), Oriental Orthodox (Copts, Armenians, Syrians and Ethiopians) and Roman Catholics (us). This situation has led to fights and brawls throughout the centuries between the various Christian groups over questions of territory, such that:

a. The keys to the Church have been in the hands of a Muslim family since friggin 1192 just so the Christian sects don’t squabble over it.

b. And objects such as the Immovable Ladder (see pic above), have been in the same spot since 1852, since moving it would constitute a territorial violation by a Christian sect and would lead to a brawl. Pretty crazy stuff!


Church of the Holy Sepulchre

* Exterior of the church with its citadel/fortress-like facade.


Church of the Holy Sepulchre

* This majestic view greets you upon entering the Church. A mixture of Byzantine and Crusader architecture and art can be seen all over the place.


Chapel of the Nailing of the Cross

* Continuing on the Via Dolorosa (Way of the Cross) leads you up the stairs to what is referred to the peak of Golgotha (top of the hill). Much like a ride in Disney World, the line stretches on with pilgrims, but you get to appreciate the various stops on the line such as The Chapel of the Nailing of the Cross (Roman Catholic) which is where Christ was supposedly nailed on the Cross (duh!).


Rock of Calvary

* The altar at the end of the line where Christ was crucified is known as The Rock of Calvary (Greek Orthodox). Under the cross is a silver plate that commemorates the exact spot where the cross stood. It is the goal of every Christian pilgrim to kiss this plate.


Rock of Calvary

* At the side of the altar is a glass enclosure showing that we are indeed at the peak of a rocky hill! It’s amazing how the builders of the church were able to build on top and around Golgotha.


Rock of Calvary

* The crazy line towards the Rock of Calvary. I had to get on top of an off-limits pulpit to take this.


Rock of Calvary

* The stairs leading down from the Rock of Calvary. Definitely not handicap-friendly!


Stone of Anointing

* The view from the top of Golgotha outside the Rock of Calvary looking down towards the area where Christ’s body was prepared for burial. Take note of the cool mosaic on the right depicting this scene.


Stone of Anointing

* A closer look at the Stone of Anointing, where Christ’s body was cleaned and anointed with oil in preparation for his burial, as sponsored by Joseph of Arimathea. The lamps that hang over the stone are contributed by the Armenians, Copts, Greeks and Catholics.


Church of Holy Sepulchre

* Yet further evidence that this Church was built on a rocky hill.


Chapel of Division of Robes

* The church is full of Chapels overseen by the various Christian groups who share custody of the Holy Sepulcher. This is the Chapel of The Division of Robes (Armenian) supposedly where the Roman soldiers divided Christ’s robes among themselves after his Crucifixion.


Armenian Apostolic

* I managed to sneak a peek in the Armenian Apostolic waiting room. I loved how everyone was rocking the beard! Take note of the Armenian patriarch’s throne on the left.


Chapel of Derision

* This is the Chapel of the Derision (Greek Orthodox), which commemorates the mocking of Jesus by the Roman soldiers. Located under the altar, is a fragment of the column where Christ supposedly sat to be crowned with thorns.


Chapel of Adam

* Directly underneath the Rock of Calvary is the Chapel of Adam. According to early Christian tradition, Jesus was crucified over the place where Adam’s skull was buried.


Chapel of Adam

* Glass enclosure around the Chapel of Adam.


Chapel of St. Helena

* A flight of stairs at the Armenian Compound leading down towards the Chapel of St. Helena and St. Vartan.


Chapel of St. Helena

* The Chapel of St. Helena (Armenian), mother of Constantine the Great and builder of the Holy Sepulcher and Church of the Nativity (where Christ was born). St. Helena is also credited for finding the True Cross of Christ and Crown of Thorns (now in Notre Dame, Paris). Her sarcophagus lies in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican.


Chapel of St. Helena

* Beautiful mosaic in front of the altar of St. Helena. Check out the Armenian priest rocking an epic beard!


Chapel of St. Helena

* Dome full of lanterns and a chandelier on top of the Chapel of St. Helena.


Arches of the Virgin

* A series of contrasting columns known as the Arches of the Virgin.


Edicule and Rotunda

* The most grand area of the church is the Edicule and Rotunda, which is covered by the blue dome from the first picture. 



Edicule and Rotunda

* The Edicule which contains the Holy Sepulcher of Christ is where Christians believe the site of Christ’s burial and resurrection occurred. The Edicule has two rooms: one with the Angel’s Stone, a fragment of the original stone that sealed the tomb of Christ, and the second being the tomb itself.


Edicule and Rotunda

* Catholic priests preparing for Good Friday mass in front of the Edicule. Under the status quo, only the Greek Orthodox, Roman Catholic and Armenian Apostolic Churches have access to the interior of the tomb. Consequently, all three churches celebrate holy mass here daily at various times. The other Christians (Copts, Ethiopians) celebrate mass at smaller altars around the Edicule.


Edicule and Rotunda

* Another view of the Rotunda and Edicule, the holiest place in all of Christianity.


Church of Holy Sepulchre

* The two angels standing back-to-back marks the spot where Mary and John looked up at Christ. Directly ahead on the 2nd floor is the Rock of Calvary. 


Church of Holy Sepulchre

* One can really feel the weight of the spiritual significance of the place with less pilgrims taking pictures, and more of them openly weeping and praying.


Church of Holy Sepulchre Door

* The massive doors of the Church, where popes and patriarchs, knights and pilgrims, rich and poor have come throughout the Centuries to worship our Lord.

Share this:

CONVERSATION

0 comments:

Post a Comment