Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem

Church of the Holy Sepulchre

Church of the Holy Sepulchre is one of the most unusual structures, let alone, "churches," I've visited in my history of exploration. A maze of pathways, domed rooms, grand halls and seemingly subterranean chambers, controlled by different orders of Christianity hide in the old city. Somehow it is both built grandly on a hill, but hidden around the corner amongst the alleys and bustle of vendors, tourists, and food markets. 

The Church is thought to contain both the site of the crucifixion as well as Jesus's empty tomb. The Church was consecrated in the year 335 and is currently divided amongst the Roman Catholics, Greek Orthodox, Armenian Apostolic, Coptic Orthodox, Syriac Orthodox, and Ethiopian Orthodox denominations. 

In this view of the main entrance a ladder can be seen below the left of a pair of windows. This ladder is known as the immovable ladder and is called such because the denominations who run the church agreed in the 1800s to keep the building in its current state, including ladder placement. 

This is the structure (Aedicule) that encloses what is thought to be the site of Jesus's tomb

Substantial details on the history of the very complex church can be found on Wikipedia. The marble slab shown above is where Jesus's body was thought to have been laid after the crucifiction. Today pilgrims rub clothes on the stone with the idea that this may give them miraculous powers. Note the plastic bags full of material that one person is planning to rub for family and friends.

This sense of faith of pilgrims is quite something to behold. Prayers over the various areas and sites in the church and incredibly long lines to visit the tomb within the church.

Text and photographs by George Parks
Sources are embedded in links


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