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Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre - December 15, 2003

Panoramic view of the Muristan (left) and of the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre (right) from the bell tower of the Redeemer's Lutheran Church. Click on the photos to enlarge.

Detail of the maquette of Jerusalem kept in the Cidadel Museum in Jerusalem (end of 19th cent.). In the foreground you are able to see the Jewish quarter and, directly behind it, the Muristan and the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre.

You can feel the weight of history in the architectural, human, and religious complexity as you encounter the square of the Basilica, where christians of Catholic, Greek-Orthodox, Armenian, and Ethiopic confession live in the cramped spaces left for them to share.

Detail of the sculptural decoration of the main façade from the Crusader Period.

Just inside the Church, the multistoreyed chapel of Calvary is found. In front of this place, the faithful kneels to venerate the "Stone of the Anointing" (Jn 19:39).

The Franciscan Chapel of the Crucifixion stands on the south side of Calvary (Jn 19:17-18).

The spur of Calvary where Jesus' Cross was raised. The rock is shown all around and beneath the central altar, which belongs to the Greeks. The altar of Our Lady of Sorrows (Jn 19:25-27) on the left is kept by the Franciscans.

The chapel of Adam beneath Calvary. An ancient tradition places the burial of the first man here. Thus, Christ's blood, dripping through a fissure caused by the earthquake at the moment of our Lord's death, would have poured on Adam's skull.

St Helen's Chapel of the Armenians was built in the underground parts of the Constantinian Basilica destroyed in 1009 AD by order of the Mamluke leader Hakim. St. Helen dug deep into this cavity to find Jesus' Cross, his nails, and title (INRI) (Jn 19:19-22). This place also belongs to the Franciscans.

Many devotional chapels are scattered in various parts of the building. This one, belonging to the Armenians, is made in memory of the Division of the Raiment (Jn 19:23-24). This dusky nook, called the "Prison of Christ", is owned by the Greeks.

We are inspecting here the worn-out remains of the walls, arches, and columns of the Constantinian Atrium, known as the Triporticum, which was once famed for its beauty.

The Crusader cupola in the middle of the basilica was recently restored and overlaid with byzantine style mosaics.

While Greeks Priests celebrate the Liturgy in the Catholicon, a faithful lights up a candle near the place called the "Navel of the Earth". The Rotunda of the Anastasis (i.e. Resurrection), shelters the Edicule covering what little remains of the Tomb of Christ.

A fragment of the stone rolled back by the Angel is inserted in a small pedestal (Mt 28:2-8). The rocky bench, where Christ's body lied prior to the Resurrection (Mk 15:46), is covered up by three layers of precious marble.

The Chapel of the Syrians is the last area still waiting for restoration along with the Edicule itself. On the right, through a gap in the wall, one may see the so-called "Tomb of Joseph of Arimathaea".

The Tomb of Joseph of Arimathaea (Mt 27:59-60) is a rock-carved sepulchre from the time of Christ; it has been partially destroyed and obliterated by the Constantinian structure and was found quite by chance later in the 15th century.

The Edicule of the Holy Sepulchre and the Rotunda of the Anastasis as seen from the Latin gallery. Click to enlarge and then scroll to the right..

External Links

 SBF main, Index

Biblical Escursions


1. City Walls (North)

2. City Walls (South)

3. City of David

4. Ophel

5. Jewish Quarter

6. Mount Zion

7. Armenian Quarter

8. Holy Sepulchre

9. Via Dolorosa

10. Probatica

11. North Jerusalem

12. Gethsemane

13. Mount of Olives

14. Ascension, Bethphage, Bethany

15. West Jerusalem

16. Ain Karem

17. Bethlehem

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Created/updated: Sunday, December 16, 2001 by J. Abela ofm / E. Alliata ofm
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