Orthodox Easter 2021 is on Sunday, May 2, 2021 – tomorrow! Orthodox Easter, also called Resurrection Sunday, is the oldest and most important festival in the Eastern Christian tradition, celebrating Jesus Christ’s resurrection (rising from the grave) following his crucifixion and death. In this context, we present a short description of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, who has long been a major pilgrimage center for Christians all around the world.
,, The site of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem is identified as the place both of the crucifixion and the tomb of Jesus of Nazareth. According to the New Testament, Jesus was crucified at Golgotha, “the place of the skull” (Matt. 27:33–35; Mark 15:22–25; John 19:17–24). This has been identified as an area of abandoned stone quarries just outside the city wall of the time. About 10 years after the crucifixion, a third wall was built that enclosed the area of the execution and burial within the city, and this accounts for the Holy Sepulchre’s location inside the Old City of Jerusalem today.
The first Church of the Holy Sepulchre was approached by a flight of steps from the Cardo, the main street of Jerusalem. Then pilgrims went through a narthex; a basilica; and an open area, the “holy garden,” which had in it the rock of Golgotha, finally reaching the Holy Sepulchre itself. The rock-cut tomb was initially open to the elements, but later it was protected by a small building.
The whole complex was richly decorated, as we know from the description by Constantine’s biographer Eusebius of Caesarea, from pictures in the Church of St. Pudenziana in Rome dating from early in the fifth century and on the Madaba mosaic map from the sixth, and from modern excavations. In 326, Constantine’s mother, Saint Helena, made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, where, according to legend, she discovered the relic of the cross of Jesus (the “True Cross”). The story of the discovery of the cross was current early in the fifth century, and in the 11th century a cave deep below the ruins of the basilica came to be known as the Chapel of the Invention of the Cross. In 614, a Persian army destroyed the church and the True Cross was taken away, but in 631 the Byzantine emperor Heraclius negotiated its return.
The Arab conquest in 638 was initially less disruptive, as Christians were treated with tolerance, but 300 years later the entrance to the basilica was converted into a mosque, and in 966 the dome was destroyed by fire during anti-Christian riots. In 1009, the fanatical Fatimid caliph al-Hakim ordered the destruction of the church. The Byzantine emperor Constantine IX Monomachus (1042–1055) funded its rebuilding, but on a different plan, with the entrance on the south side. During the next half-century, the church of Constantine IX Monomachus was largely reconstructed. Although the building’s footprint was preserved, the church acquired the attributes of a cathedral on the Western model. The holy garden became the basilica of the crusaders’ church, and the rock of Golgotha was given its own chapel.
The Church of the Holy Sepulchre was reconsecrated on July 15, 1149, 50 years to the day after the capture of Jerusalem by the First Crusade, but in fact work continued on the building for some years afterward. Nevertheless, the church of the crusaders is essentially the church that is to be seen today.
On Holy Saturday, the ceremony of the Holy Fire took place. The patriarch entered the edicule, where the Easter Fire was kindled and then passed from hand to hand. This was witnessed by the chroniclers Ekkehard of Aura in 1101 and Caffaro in 1102.
Despite the mutilations of the centuries, the Holy Sepulchre remains a fascinating complex of structures and is of key importance for several phases of medieval architectural history, ‘imitations’ being built all over Europe. Today, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is one of Jerusalem’s main landmarks and continues to draw many pilgrims and visitors.”
Source: part of the presentation published by official website Church of the Holy Sepulchre, link: https://churchoftheholysepulchre.net/
Please read the complete presentation on the already indicated link of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Republished by Intell News Romania in English on May 1, 2021
Take a look also at the article in Romanian, from April 27, 2019, on the Intell News website:
,,Sfânta Lumină de la Ierusalim va fi adusă în România de Sfintele Paști”, https://www.intellnews.ro/sfanta-lumina-de-la-ierusalim-va-fi-adusa-in-romania-de-sfintele-pasti/