Tiddley-Bits tea

Tiddley-Bits tea

Saturday, 2 July 2016

{postcards from Israel-Church of the Holy Sepulchre}

Hopefully you'll have been following my posts on Israel, but if not, you can find them here on the Holy City and here on the markets & here on our arrival...
I've decided to dedicate a whole post on the Church of the Holy Sepulchre just because it is a really unique building and it was quite an experience.
{on the rootfops of the church}
The door to the complex is  through a tiny unassuming hole in the wall from one of the souks:

{exterior architecture}

Once inside, you are overwhelmed by the glitter of gold from the mosaics and the flickering of candles:

To orient yourself, you might find this map useful: 

Upon entering the church, you find the stone of unction, where Christ's body is said to have been prepared for burial by Joseph of Arimathea:


From here you can take steps up to the chapel, where an altar, a gift from the Medici grazes one corner, and Byzantine mosaics glitter above.

Here at the centre, the main altar is said to be directly above where Christ was crucified.

From here you descend again into the main church, where you can circumambulate the side chapels, and visit the tombs of Jesus' contemporaries, as well as enter the Holy Tomb of Jesus.
{the stunning dome}

{side chapels}
Everywhere you look, you can see traces of centuries of worship...from different architectural styles, to faded frescoes, to pilgrims' graffiti...
{layers of architecture over time}

{signs of pilgrims over the centuries}

 Down the steps to Helena's chapel:

 What is the most striking thing you can do, and the most moving, is to join in one of the processions held every evening at 4pm or 5pm depending on the time of the year.
Holding candles, you process through the church, saying prayers, and following the stations of the cross, as well as accompanying the monks as they sing. For me, this made the significance of the space much more real, rather than a tourist attraction. It is still a church used by these holy men, but of different denominations. At one point the Franciscans chanting were in competition with the nearby Orthodox chanting, underlining how many different denominations of Christianity call this site holy.
 The monks chanting:

{orthodox procession}


{in procession with candle (Franciscan procession)}

The striking thing about Jerusalem is the evidence everywhere you look of co-existence between the various religions. Right outside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is a mosque, and while we were standing there we heard the muezzin call for prayer:

Stay tuned for one last instalment on Galilee and Nazareth!

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