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.

Love, How Many Ways Do We Have To Love?

Love, How Many Ways Do We Have To Love?

What has Jesus taught his disciples about love?

In the Gospel according to Matthew 5:43-48, Jesus said,

“But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you in order that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.

For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax-gatherers do the same? And if you greet your brothers only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect”.

Is there a new way to love our enemies?

Pray for your enemies

Praying for your enemy opens you up to the work of the Holy Spirit in your heart.

Forgive your enemies

Loving your enemy does not mean:

  • You have to add them to your Christmas list, or
  • make them your best friend, or
  • excuse their actions

it means you forgive them, with the knowledge that God is both merciful and just.

How would you feel?

Loving your enemies and praying for those who persecute you is liberating. You can find yourself in pitched battles with the people who hate you, always seeking the upper hand, always noting who’s up and who’s down, and always analyzing every slight. Praying for them can make you feel even better and change your attitude towards them.

So what Jesus is telling us is hard, but it’s not impossible. And it’s necessary, too, because ultimately he is inviting us not only to forgiveness and charity but to something else: freedom and happiness

The Middle Ages art around Mother Mary

It was in the Middle Ages that images of the Mother Mary, also known as Madonnas, began to pick up popularity. And specifically in Italy, in the process of panel painting.

The role of the Dominican

The Dominican and Franciscan Orders were among the first to give the go-ahead for such panels, and they were used everywhere from churches and monasteries to residential homes. Groups called confraternities met specifically to sing the Virgin Mary’s praises in chapels and were known to provide the funding for such panels.

The panels themselves, as part of the construction of churches dedicated to the Mother Mary, could be costly affairs, as they often included real gold leaf. Some stone used in the construction, including the bright blue lapis lazuli, was brought all the way from Afghanistan.

Duccio’s Madonnas

In the late Middle Ages, the artist Duccio was responsible for creating some of the most famous Madonnas. One of the most famous ones is above the altar in the Cathedral of his hometown, Siena. This is known as the Maesta and is included as part of a massive work which depicts various prophets and saints.

The unique style of the Middle Ages

The Mother Mary can usually be distinguished in these Middle Ages works due to her depiction as a young mother. She is typically wearing a blue mantle or appears in murals and mosaics. There’s a great deal of attention paid to the emotion on the face of Mother Mary, while she is holding the Baby Jesus. Moreover, this is often depicted as an intimate moment, in which the compassion of the Mother Mary can be seen.

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.

Why is the popularity of cremation increasing and what are the new options?

One of the main issues of humanity is related to land and, in the modern era, the lack of it. Real-estate is a pressing issue, especially in the urban areas around the world. As a result, more and more families are looking for new solutions and new traditions regarding their accommodation. But while we are looking for solutions for the living, we should also look for new spaces for the deceased, as well as new methods.

Traditions and solutions

In most of the Western countries, the most popular method is the burial. Some families are buried in mausoleums, which is a structure where there is room for coffins and personal belongings. It is also where generations of the same family can rest in peace together. Some families can’t afford these buildings and are buried in the same cemetery plots for generations. But as the world population is at its peak, burial becomes an issue. In some of the largest cemeteries, there are vacant spaces only for the next 40-50 years.

But why is burial the common solution? There are two apparent reasons:

The first one is the lack of other available options, and the second one is the Christian tradition and the change in the Catholic canon law.

Only in the late 19th century, a professor from Italy perfected the cremation model. Once this solution became available, it began to spread across Europe and North America. In the USA, by the beginning of the 20th century, there were around 20 crematories. By the end of the century, there were over 2,000 crematories.

Revised Canon Law

Even though cremation was available for Catholic Christians since the middle of the 20th century, its full regulations became clear only last year.

According to the new guidelines, the main concern is the memory of the deceased and keep him as part of the community. This concern is met at best with burial in a cemetery, and therefore other solutions, such as cremation or burial in private locations, are less common.

At the beginning of this article, we found out that burial has turned out to be an issue demanding of new solutions. With the revised canon law, cremation is a new solution that brings with it even further outcomes.

 New Traditions

As part of the growing movement of cremation, new traditions are rising. One of them is sending ashes to sacred places, such as the Holy Land. Officials in Israel are stating that this is a growing movement, which increases in popularity by thousands every year. Most of the families have no relatives in Israel, but a wish to be closer to Jesus and his legacy.

In Israel import and burial are allowed, this rule is in accordance with the Catholic canon law, which forbids scattering the ashes. Today, a family can have a local and personal ceremony, and afterward, send the Urn to the Holy Land to place it for its final rest in a sacred and secure place. Such a service is available in the Salvation Garden, Click here to learn more.

To those who wish to scatter the ashes in a holy location, Please leave your details below and one of our representatives will contact you soon. 

Send your Ash to the Holy Land

Ash scatter or an Urn in the Salvation Garden in Jerusalem are a reality - contact us for more information

Christianity is a religion that revolves around relationships. In the New Testament, the authors of the four Gospels go out of their way to show how Jesus interacted with humanity. To fully understand how critical relationships are in Christianity, you need to examine how Jesus related to his family, followers and his disciplines.

 

Jesus and his family

As the Gospels open with the birth of Jesus, you realize that He was born in an ordinary family and had brothers and sisters who did not always believe in Him. In one instance, his family members even tried to take charge of him thinking that he was out of his mind. Mark 3:21 says, when his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.” Even though his own siblings did not always believe he was the Son of God, he was very patient with them and never insulted them.  

Jesus and his disciples

Jesus had a very close relationship with his disciples. He was their friend, confidant, and teacher. In Luke 12:4 Jesus refers to his disciples as friends.
“I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more.” (Luke 12:4).
Good friends confide in each other. Jesus confided in his disciples during trying moments. Just before his arrest and crucifixion, he opened up to them about his emotional turmoil. This is how Matthew captures that moment in Matthew 26:36-38
“Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to His disciples, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be grieved and distressed. Then He said to them, “My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death; remain here and keep watch with me.”
 

Jesus and his followers

Jesus not only interacted with his disciplines but he also spent time with his friends. John 12 1-2
“Jesus, therefore, six days before the Passover, came to Bethany where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. So they made Him a supper there, and Martha was serving, but Lazarus was one of those reclining at the table with Him.”
In the above text, John takes the time to show that Jesus took the time to interact and dine with his followers and friends such as Lazarus, Mary and Martha.
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How can you prepare for anything? Is it possible?

The Bible tells us that we are in a conflict and Satan is doing everything he can to make you fail. In 1 Thessalonians 5:6, we learn that we should not sleep as others do, “So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be awake and sober”.

But how can you prepare for anything?

 

What can we learn from Jesus?

The very act of becoming Christians put us in unfamiliar territories. Christ has called his followers to stop seeking earthly riches as in Matthew 6:19,

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal”.

He also tells us not to worry about the future as in Luke 12:22

“Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear”.

We should also live sacrificially to seek the good of others as in Matthew 22:39

“And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself”.

All these run contrary to what the world demands of us as Christians. Christianity offers ways to prepare ourselves, and they include:

PRAY

If you wish to know what God wants, you have to begin by asking in prayer. He will lead and guide you to a place of peace and safety. Our prayer requests should be to learn the will of God.

LISTEN

We have to listen to the voice of God so that we can know and do God’s will.

WATCH

Saint Paul teaches us to watch and be ready. We should watch with joy and gladness.

STORE

The kinds of things we need to store are those things that feed our light within.

IMPROVE

Even though God does not expect us to be perfect, we should make sure that each day we are a little better than the previous day.

Where can you get started in the Christian life? How can you grow and get to know God better? These are some of the very first questions you need to ask when you begin your relationship with God.

Listen to God

The Bible is the very word and will of God, preserved for us so we can get to know who He is and what He wants for our lives. 2 Timothy 3:16 says that
“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
This is why you need to spend time reading the word of God every single day. If you don’t have a Bible that’s easy to understand, you will find online versions that will befit your language.
  • Answer these two questions for each chapter:
  1. What do I learn about God or Jesus?
  2. Are there things discussed that I should begin practicing or avoid altogether?
This will help you to see that the Bible is very practical to your life today. After you finish John, just keep going all the way to Revelation. When we read the Bible we learn how God loves us.
“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” (1 John 3:1).
We learn that we are entirely new people because we’ve invited Jesus to be our Savior and Lord. Read Ephesians 1:3-14 and spend a moment listing all the things that are true of you as a Christian.

Talk to God

Prayer is such a vital aspect of a healthy walk with God. Think of it, we can talk with GOD! Anytime, anywhere, any season of temptation or joy. Hebrews 13:5 tells us that God will never leave or forsake us. That’s good news for some of us who have never known that kind of love and commitment. Well, we do now…because God does not lie or change his mind (Numbers 23:19; Titus 1:2; Hebrews 6:18)  

Talk to Others Who Know God

This is simply called fellowship, hanging out with other people who love Jesus. It can be at church, in a Bible study or in a small group. It is for purposes of growing together (Acts 2:46-47)  

Talk to Others About God

This is called witnessing. As we can learn from the book – 2 Corinthians 5:17-20,
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.”
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