The Magnificent Church Of The Holy Sepulcher In Jerusalem Israel

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 Light Shines In The Darkness At The Church Of The Holy Sepulcher In Jerusalem Israel

What a magnificent sight to see the light shinning into the dark church at the very location of the crucifixion of Jesus, The interior of the church is so poorly lite, but coming into the dome were broad rays of light. It is here that His death, burial, and resurrection took place. The church is designed and built over the crucifixion site and the place of His burial and resurrection.  The Church Of The Holy Sepulcher site has been recognized since early in the 4th century as the place where Jesus was crucified, buried, and rose from the dead. It is believed that it was here that the Light pierced the darkness. 

And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. ~John 1:5

The Inner Beauty Of The Dome

The Church of the Holy Sepulcher is also known among the Eastern Orthodox Believers as the Church of the Resurrection. This beautiful building can be found in the Old City of Jerusalem. Christian pilgrims around the world consider it one of the most holy places on earth. The building was built as to include both Golgotha, the place where Jesus was crucified, and the sepulcher where He was buried and rose again from the dead. This has been a very important destination for the faithful dating clear back to the 4th century.

The dome is beautifully done with many paintings from the eighteen hundreds and some from earlier restorations. The spectacular workmanship represents many different renovations. This Basilica was destroyed and rebuilt so many times throughout history. Each time it was rebuilt, some of the antiquities from the preceding church was used in the newer renovation or construction.

  The Holy Basilica Dome Showing The Nitches And Amazing Detail 

Another View Of This Elaborate Dome

      A Priest Administers The Sacred Incense 

The Church Of The Holy Sepulcher is a continued place of meditation and prayer, day and night. Pilgrims come from the world over for the opportunity to pray and experience deep meditation in this Holy site. Priests keep a thick smoke from the incense coming from the altar day and night. This is a Holy site for so many pilgrims the world over.

The use of incense dates back to the time of the second temple and the Jewish use of incense. It is thought by many that it represents the prayers of the faithful ascending to heaven.  Incense is also used in rites of purification within the Catholic, Eastern, and Orthodox Churches. 

 Climbing The Steps To Calvary 

Once this was a hill you climbed, but now it is a protected site. As you climb the stone steps that lead to the top where Jesus was crucified, you can not help but be in a somber mood. Crucifixion was a brutal way to die. According to accounts in all the Gospels of the New Testament, Jesus was brought to the “Place of the Skull” to die by Crucifixion. He was crucified between two thieves, criminals, but his only charge was claiming to be the “King of the Jews.

This climb up to Calvary is on the major route for Christian pilgrims of all faith. The Church Of The Holy Sepulcher is the Holiest site in the Old City of Jerusalem. The church protects both the place of the Crucifixion and the place of the resurrection. 

     Nail Driven Through The Ankle Bone Discovered In Jerusalem From The 1st Century A.D.  

This discovery  brings to the pilgrims mind and emotions all the horror of the crucifixion. You can not help but feel the pain and agony as you look at this nail through an ankle bone. A crucifixion was the most humiliating of all possible executions. The condemned person was made to be as vulnerable as could be, and usually they were hung totally naked. Sometimes they could even hang for days just barely alive. This must have been one of the world’s worst form of execution. 

 The Rock Of Golgotha Where Jesus Was Crucified  

The rock of Golgotha is believed to be the very place where Jesus Christ was crucified. This place is now protected as a part of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in the Old City of Jerusalem, Israel. This holy site is venerated as Golgotha, also called the Hill of Calvary, being the place where Jesus was crucified with a thief on each side. The Church of the Holy Sepulcher is also believed by most all archaeologists as the place where Jesus was buried in the Sepulcher. 

   The Stone Of anointing 

The Stone of Anointing was the stone where the body of Jesus was laid after being removed from the crucifix and it was here that his body was prepared for burial. This is another one of the holy sites at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem, Israel. As was the Jewish custom of the time, he was anointed with oils and spices, then he was wrapped in shrouds. This was the common way that all bodies were prepared for burial during this time by the Jews. 

    Syrian Orthodox Chapel In The Church Of The Holy Sepulcher 

The Syrian Orthodox Chapel of the Jacobite sect is located just behind the tomb where Jesus was buried. Due to the poverty of the Syrian Orthodox Church, little  repairs or restoration has been done to the chapel area. The chapel is located within the church walls of the Constantine Church, all of which are a part of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem today. The walls and altar sustained major fire damage over the years and no repairs have been made. To the south of the chapel you will find many typical Jewish tombs of the 1st century. According to tradition, the tombs of Joseph of Arimathea and Nikodemus are found in this area. It was Arimathea who took down the body of Jesus from the cross and saw to the proper burial. 

   Luke 23:50-56 King James Version (KJV)

50 And, behold, there was a man named Joseph, a counsellor; and he was a good man, and a just:

51 (The same had not consented to the counsel and deed of them;) he was of Arimathaea, a city of the Jews: who also himself waited for the kingdom of God.

52 This man went unto Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus.

53 And he took it down, and wrapped it in linen, and laid it in a sepulchre that was hewn in stone, wherein never man before was laid.54 And that day was the preparation, and the sabbath drew on.

55 And the women also, which came with him from Galilee, followed after, and beheld the sepulchre, and how his body was laid.

56 And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments; and rested the sabbath day according to the commandment. 

   Interior Of The Tomb Of Joseph Of Arimathea

Inside the Syrian Orthodox Chapel of Saint Joseph of Arimathea and Saint Nicodemus is a very plain rock hewed cave where Jesus was laid to rest. It is here that the women returned on the First Day of the week to find Jesus was not where he had been placed. Instead the rock which covered the entrance was rolled aside and Jesus was no longer there. 

          Matthew 28:1-7 King James Version (KJV) 

28 In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulcher.

2 And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it.

3 His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow:

4 And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men.

5 And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified.

He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.

7 And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you. 

    Scaffolding On A Large Unmarked Wall 

Possibly a large stone is contained in the scaffolding on this large unmarked wall that might have been part of an earlier altar. This may have been a part of an archaeology project headed by the Greek Orthodox,under whose control that section of the building remains. Any work, that might have been done, seems  to have halted. This project possibly dates back into the 1960s, when there was a major project started that was never completed.

There are often unknown digs that go on in different areas of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher due to the shared status of the building and the distrust that can sometimes be seen. The Greek Orthodox, Roman Catholics, Coptic’s, Syrians, and Armenians, all share guardianship of this beautiful piece of history. The Ethiopians have a monastery on the roof and control that area. Two Muslim families keep the keys to the massive Crusader doors. This enables all to have complete access when desired. 

   The Ladder Window 

The mystery of the Ladder Window is one that is centuries old. In fact, the ladder has been there so long, that people no longer even know how it got there or what it was used for. Over the centuries there has been many suggestions put forth, but all are just an attempt to solve an unsolvable mystery.

One that many people have offered is that it was left behind by a careless mason, or window washer. With a building of this size, that certainly is a very real possibly. But then, there is the suggestion of it having been used in order to supply food to the Armenian monks who were locked in the church by the Turks. No matter the reason for the original ladder, it did come in handy for the monks wishing to use the cornice as a balcony to get fresh air and sunshine. By not leaving the church, they were able to by pass paying the Ottoman tax to re-enter through the door.

The ladder appears in an engraving of the church that was done in 1728 and is mentioned in the work of Sultan Abdul Hamid I in 1757. No matter when it was originally left in that position, it is immovable and it is part of the Status Quo. It must permanently remain in it’s position on the ledge over the entrance to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. Regardless of when the original ladder was left in this position, it is impossible to think that this is the original ladder that was left behind.  Being that it has weathered the elements of Mother Nature since the early 18th century, it would have had to have been replaced at least once. The ladder, window,  and the historical cornice are all included as part of the possession of the Armenian Orthodox Church and must so remain. 

 The Magnificent Church Of The Holy Sepulcher In Jerusalem Israel 

Anytime of the year  is the perfect time to visit the Holy Land. There is always more to see and do than the time you have. If you enjoy history, you will enjoy all the museums, and archaeological sites. There is a vast number of ruins to explore and conquer. A trip to Israel also pairs nicely with a side trip to Jordan. You can easily spend a whole day discovering Petra.

For the Christian believer, the highlight of a spring trip would be to join in with the local Christian Churches as they celebrate the Resurrection Of Jesus. Information on the events being held during Holy Week can be found by calling a local Cathedral. The Church of the Holy Sepulcher is very involved in the different Holy Week events. Each of the many denominations, your travel guide, and even your motel can suggest many places to go during this special week.

Those of the Jewish faith will delight in the events surrounding the Passover. A quick call to any of the Chabad Houses will give you all the information needed. Chabad also has a special seder service throughout the Holy Land for those who are traveling, and lack local contacts.

Regardless of your reason or interests, there is never a moment without something to see or do.  Jerusalem is an amazing city that you will want to spend as much time as possible. Why not make this the year, you celebrate the events surrounding Easter or Passover in the holy city of Jerusalem, Israel?

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