The History of the Holy Sepulchre and the Church

Where was the crucifixion of Jesus?

“And they were come unto a place called Golgotha, that is to say, The place of a skull,” (Matthew 27:33)

Jesus was crucified at Golgotha, known in the New Testament (Matt. 27:33–35; Mark 15:22–25; John 19:17–24) as “the place of the skull”. This location lay outside the perimeter of the city walls at the time and was an abandoned stone quarry.

Around a decade later, a wall was built which enclosed the site inside what we know today as Jerusalem’s Old City.

Stone of Anointing (Stone of Unction)

Another point of interest inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is the so-called Stone of Unction, which was the spot where Joseph of Arimathea prepared Jesus for Burial.

It is customary for pilgrims to kneel and kiss the stone on their arrival at this location within the church. This tradition stems from John 19:40:

“Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury”.

The kneeling action is also represented in the large mosaic above the Stone of Unction, which depicts subjects kneeling alongside the stone.

How was it discovered?

The tomb itself was discovered in the process of building a church ordered by Roman Emperor Constantine I. This then became the first Church of the Holy Sepulchre which could be accessed by a set of steps which rose from one of Jerusalem’s main streets.

Early pilgrims would have walked through a basilica and the ‘holy garden which contained ‘the rock of Golgotha, before reaching the Holy Sepulchre.

The Church starts to form around the Stone of Anointing

A small building was built around the tomb, which was originally exposed. The relic of the cross of Jesus, another important feature of the church, is said to have been discovered by Saint Helena, Constantine’s mother, in 326.

In the 11th century, the Chapel of the Invention of the Cross was founded, in a cave deep beneath the basilica’s ruins, which is still present today.

A number of destructions and restructurings have taken place at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, including a 614 ransacking by a Persian Army, a 966 fire which destroyed the dome in anti-Christian riots, and a complete dismantling by fanatical Arab leader Fatimid caliph al-Hakim in 1009.

After being rebuilt by Constantine IX Monomachus, the Byzantine emperor – after the first Crusade, ending in 1099, freed it up as a place of worship – it was reconsecrated 50 years later to the day. While work has been carried out periodically over the years, the post-Crusade Church of the Holy Sepulchre is much like the one which stands today.

Today pilgrims often light a candle, make a prayer or take part in a procession around the site. The experience is very emotional for some, evocative for others, and gives Christians the chance to communicate with God and ask for what is in their hearts. For those who are far away, we are offering the pilgrims experience as an online option.

RESURRECTION

What Do We Know About Resurrection?

When thinking about resurrection in Christianity, the first thing that comes to most of the believers’ minds are the events that happened in Jerusalem around 30-33 AD.

The Christian belief that Jesus will return and bring His followers back to life stems from extensive accounts,

  • found in the Four Gospels of the New Testament, about the resurrection of Christ that happened three days after His crucifixion and burial.
  • The gospels’ narratives of many incidents where Jesus appeared to over 500 people in the 40 days after His death
  • The events of nine other resurrections with eyewitness accounts.

 

The opponents say

Over the years, many theories have surfaced because of some inconsistencies in the accounts, such as beliefs that

  • – Jesus had only temporarily lost consciousness, or
  • – the Apostles had stolen His body from the grave, but these theories are easily disputed by the overwhelming abundance of matching events in the gospels, which assert the belief of Jesus being resurrected.

 

What that matter is…

In the end, despite the ongoing efforts of scientist and historians to find factual information, it’s not really a matter of proving or disproving the event, because it transcends these matters with its meaning.

Resurrection is not only a testament to God’s power over life and death but:

– A symbol of the unification of body and soul.

– An example of justice and salvation for those who had humbled themselves and followed God’s word.

Ultimately, it means the unification of Christ and His followers.

Where was Jesus for three days?

Or should we start with the question – what happened to Jesus while he was dead?

The Bible is not clear or rather does not give a chronology of events, of what happened to Jesus after his death and before the resurrection. This article will attempt, using biblical records, to look at what happened during those days.

Paradise and spiritual beings

Jesus Christ headed His spirit to the Father, died physically, and entered paradise,

“Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:43)

However, at some time between His death and resurrection, it is recorded that Jesus Christ also visited a place where He delivered a message to spirit beings. This might have been fallen angels, according to Jude 1:6.

“And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their proper dwelling—these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day”

Records also show that these beings were somehow also related to the period before Noah’s time, according to 1st Peter 3:20

“to those who were disobedient long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built”

Peter does not, however, tell us what Jesus Christ said to the fallen angels, but this could not have been a message of salvation. According to Hebrews 2:16 “For surely it is not angels he helps,” to say that angels can’t be saved.  But as recorded in 1st Peter 3:22 “who has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand—with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him.” and Colossians 2:15,

“And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross”.

He might have declared His victory over Satan.

The Captives and the Saints

According to Ephesians 4:8-10, and quoting Psalms 68:18, Paul says that “when He ascended on high, he took many captives”. This may mean that Jesus gathered all the redeemed who were there and took them to their permanent dwelling in heaven.

Jesus had supported the saints and brought them to their eternal home. It is during this period that he also proclaimed victory over the fallen angels who are in prison.

Cross Sunset Sunrise Hill Sky Sun Crucifixion

JESUS AND THE IMPORTANCE HE SAW IN RESURRECTION

Jesus knew he had to be in Jerusalem, he knew he must be killed and resurrect. In this article, we will review the events.

Most of our knowledge about Jesus comes from the apostles and therefore we are bringing here the highlights.

Jesus is giving his disciples a detailed review of the upcoming events:

According to the book of Matthew:

“From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life”. (16:21)

After the crucifixion – Jesus was crucified and died at noon. Upon his death, an earthquake struck the area:

“And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city,” (27:52-53)

Joseph of Arimathea was keen to ensure that the corpse was buried according to the Jewish law, put the body in a new shroud and buried his body in the tomb just before sunset (27:57-60).

Women who followed Jesus had carried and prepared spices for anointing the body of Jesus Christ, and before they went to rest on the weekly Sabbath day, they made sure his tomb was sealed.

“And there was Mary Magdalene, and the other Mary, sitting over against the sepulcher” (27:61)

The Resurrection

Then the body of Jesus Christ was in the tomb for three days and nights, and near sunset, he rose with the promise of bringing salvation to humankind.

The women that prepared the spices arrived early in the morning and found that Jesus had already risen,

“And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified” (28:5).

Jesus met his eleven disciples and sent them to us, to the world, with his promise

“I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen” (28:19)

With these last words, we have the legacy of Jesus regarding our Salvation and his all-time presence.

Jerusalem: the Holy City

According to Zechariah, the Lord promised to protect Jerusalem, to make it an ‘immovable rock for all the nations’ and to ‘shield those who live in Jerusalem, so that the feeblest among them will be like David’. This, coupled with Luke 24:47:
‘and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem
has led Christians to believe that salvation of the Earth will begin in the Holy City.

Is it still a significant place?

Yes, Because of this belief, and because Christ died and was resurrected in the city, Jerusalem has become one of the most significant places on Earth for Christians. Each year, millions of Christians make the pilgrimage to the empty prayerof Jesus at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in the city to pray. They are seeking solace and redemption in the process. Many also wish to be buried there, as they believe that the Last Judgment will take place in Jerusalem.
Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on google
Google+
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on whatsapp
WhatsApp

The Stone of the Anointing

The Stone of the Anointing is also often called the Stone of Unction. It can be found just inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre contains the two most holy Christian sites in Jerusalem, Calvary where Jesus was crucified and

the Stone of the Anointing where his body was prepared for burial by anointing and being wrapped in cloth.

Importance to Christians

The Stone of the Anointing is of enormous importance to Christians across the world as it was here that Mary Magdalene was the first person to see the newly risen Jesus. She didn’t realize it was him and thought she was speaking to a stranger when she said:

“They have taken my Lord away, and I don’t know where to find him.”

For Christians, this is the most important event in the history of mankind, as it is when death was conquered by Jesus and from that moment on his believers felt they too could defeat death and experience eternal life. The importance of this event is reflected in the importance of the Stone of the Anointing.

History

Most historians are in agreement that the Stone of the Anointing is the place where Jesus’ body was prepared for burial. Because of this, the stone itself and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre are very popular destinations for pilgrims and they have been the scenes of some difficult times throughout history.

The Roman Emperor Hadrian didn’t want a site of such significance to be available to Christians, so he built a temple to the goddess Venus over the holy site in the 2nd Century AD. Around 325 AD the Roman empire had its first Christian Emperor, Constantine the Great, who oversaw the replacement of the temple by a church.

In 630 AD this church was damaged by a Persian attack and a difficult history of earthquakes, fires and repairs followed.

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre was totally reconstructed in 1810 and it was at this time that the current Stone of the Anointing was placed where Jesus’ body was prepared for burial.

What people do there today

The Stone of the Anointing remains a very holy pilgrimage site for Christians today. Pilgrims queue to either kiss the stone or rub it with oil or rosewater and then wipe it with a cloth. Priests burn incense around the stone and sometimes people place their own crosses on it in order to transfer the unction or anointing.

Rosewater

Rosewater is used to anoint the Stone of the Anointing because it is a perfume that has traditional use in a number of religions. For example, during Muslim burials rosewater is sprinkled into a grave before burial. Rosewater has in the past been used for the embalming of bodies as it has properties that are good for the skin.

Visitors to the Stone of the Anointing

Over hundreds of years, there have been stories of miracles and cures experienced by people who have visited and anointed the Stone of the Anointing. The atmosphere in the Church of the Sepulchre is one of reverence and worship. This is clearly one of the holiest places and somewhere that each and every one of us should consider visiting during our lifetimes.

Where are The Churches of Mother Mary in the Holy Land?

Mother Mary’s journeys had a great impact on Jesus, but while we can find many sites related to his footsteps, what do we know about hers? Here are some highlights on Mother Mary’s main stations in life and the Churches we can visit today.

 

There are several holy sites in today’s Israel, which are sacred to Christians all over the world. Some of them are churches pertaining to the Mother Mary.

In the North

The Church of the Annunciation, sometimes known as the Basilica of the Annunciation, is a place of worship in the northern Israeli town of Nazareth. The Annunciation happened there, while Mary was taking water from a spring. Therefore the site features the Grotto of the Annunciation, and some say that Mary’s childhood home was in that cave. Today, there is a modern 20th-century church with two stories at the site. The first shrine at the Church of the Annunciation is said to date back to the 4th century.

In Jerusalem

The Church of the Assumption which is dated back to the 5th century is also located in Holy Land. According to the Christian tradition, Mary’s Tomb is found in this church. The church is at the bottom of the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem. There is also a niche which is dedicated to St. Joseph, Mary’s husband. The church is located in Jerusalem’s Old City Walls; not far from the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. To the right of the church is a passageway which leads to the Grotto of Gethsemane, which is the site where Jesus gave his last lessons to his disciples.

Jerusalem's Saints

This is a series on the Saints and Martyrs who lived close to Jesus.

We are starting with Saint Crispoldus and Saint Joanna.

Saint Crispoldus

Saint Crispoldus was the first Bishop of Bettona in Italy, and he was a native of Jerusalem. According to a legendary story, he was one of the chosen disciples who would save the world (according to Luke 10). Therefore, as one of Jesus’s disciples, he is known for the miracles he did. For example, it is said that he cured a man possessed by a demon. On a different occasion, he cured Valerius, and after that many people turned to Christianity. He is also known to kill a wolf that daunted people, which earned him favor among others.

Saint Crispoldus refused to honor and worship idols; therefore, he was arrested. He persistently refused to offer sacrifice to pagan gods and was finally executed together with his friend. His sister and 12 other women were also arrested when they attempted to give Crispoldus a proper Christian burial. Unfortunately, they were executed.

His memorial is observed on May 12.

Saint Joanna

Saint Joanna was Chuza’s wife, King Herod Antipa’s steward. Along with Mary and other women, they provided for Jesus and his disciples. Joanna and the other women used their personal resources and connections in different cities and villages in the Holy Land, while Jesus and his disciples travelled and preached.

St. Joanna was also one of the women who came to the tomb with spices to prepare his body for burial. However, by the time she and the other women arrived, they found that the stone had been moved and that the body was missing.

Her feast day is observed on May 24.

What did Jesus find in Garden of Gethsemane?

Our lesson from Jesus is that at times of great turmoil, we always have access to the path of salvation

 

The Suffering of Jesus

The Garden of Gethsemane is where Jesus went to pray before the ordeal on the cross of Calvary. The Bible indicates that Jesus was extremely troubled and overwhelmed with sorrow, to the point of sweating drops of blood. For three times, Jesus Christ prayed if it was possible for the cup of suffering to be removed from him, but that the will of the Father would be done.

The 12th Chapter of the Book of Hebrew says that Jesus “endured the cross, scorning its shame” and that he did this “for the joy set before him”. Even though he was under pressure, by faith, he knew that he would experience great joy on the other side of the suffering. The Garden of Gethsemane, therefore, has a deep meaning.

Willingness is strength

Jesus’s strength to be the Savior is of fundamental importance. Jesus Christ was willing to die on the cross for our salvation and pay the penalty for our sins. According to 2nd Corinthians 5:21, “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us so that in him we might become the righteousness of God”. This was the gospel of Jesus Christ.

“An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him” (Luke 22:43).

For two times Jesus woke up his disciples to remind them to pray so they wouldn’t fall into temptations. But they kept on falling into sleep and temptations. Even so, Jesus didn’t lose his faith, and although it did trouble him, he kept on praying. Then he had the strength he needed from God.

View from the Mount of Olives to the old city of Jerusalem

Mount of Olives yesterday and today

The Mount is one of the most beautiful locations in the Holy Land and it has a unique role in Jesus’s life. Where is it and what happened there? This article opens a series on the Holy Land and the Mount of Olives.

 

Location first

The Mount of Olives separates the city of Jerusalem from the Judean Desert; from here it begins its descent towards the Dead Sea. The Kidron Valley surrounds Jerusalem to the east and separates the Mount from the city. On the south, there is Mount Zion and on the north, there is Mount Scopus.

Unique Features

The Mountain has three areas of uniquely high ground from which descend steep roads to the valley. From the north to the south extends “Karm as-Sayyad” (“vineyard of the hunter”), reaching 818 meters of altitude; in the center is “Jebel et-Tur” (“holy mountain”) at 808 meters; and to the southwest, on the far side of the Jerusalem-Jericho road, is “Bet el Hawa” (“belly of the wind”), also known as “Mount Scandal”, at 713 meters high.

The Olives

The name of the Mountain comes from the olive trees that have grown on its slopes for thousands of years, and some of the oldest olive trees in the world are still there. The mountain is also known as the Mount of Unction. The reason for it origins from the use of the oil in the Jewish tradition. The oil from the leaves was used to anoint the high priests and the king.

Jesus on the Mountain

Jesus set foot on the mountain immediately after the last supper, crossing the valley into Gethsemane.

An especially relevant episode in Jesus’s life is also one of the most important Christian memories accrued on the Mount of Olives. That is the teaching of the Lord’s Prayer: Eleona or the Grotto of the Lord’s Prayer. But it isn’t the only one: Weeping over Jerusalem: Dominus Flevit. Acclamation upon his entry into the Holy City on the back of a donkey: the sanctuary of Bethphage. The prayer in the garden of Gethsemane followed by his capture:   and next to it there are – Garden of Olives and Grotto of Gethsemane. And Jesus’s Ascension into Heaven, which occurred at the summit of the mount: the Edicule of the Ascension.