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The Church of the Holy Sepulcher: Where Easter is Observed

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 0 0

Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Easter Sunday are celebrated by thousands of pilgrims in the Old City of Jerusalem. Commemorations of the crucifixion, burial, and resurrection of Jesus are practiced at what is considered the holiest site of Christendom. It is also controversial because for some it is not a certainty that this place is really where Jesus was entombed. There is authentic history and acclaimed miracles (the holy fire), witnessed by many Christians that does give authenticity and credence to the belief, so that is what the focus here will be.


Church of Holy Sepulcher
Church of the Holy Sepulcher or The Church of the Resurrection, is a venerated worship site. It is maintained by an agreement made permanent in 1852. The agreement (status quo) has different custodians to carry on the many schedules and places of worship within the enormous, ornate building. Events are strictly regulated, which is sensible because so many different religious practices are observed.

Jerusalem has the most sacred sites of the monotheist religions; Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The Church of the Holy sepulcher is used by all. Roman Catholic priests, Greek Orthodox, Armenian Apostolic, Copt Orthodox, and others can be seen praying, reciting, preparing for a mass and whatnot! The sepulcher is a receptacle for religious objects, in this case, the most important edicule being the tomb of Jesus. It is a structure under the basilica's dome. A great virtual tour of this sacred site can be seen here.
entrance to Basilica tomb of Jesus

It's interesting that Easter ascends from pagan festivals, known as Eastre, a Saxon celebration of Spring and fertility. The rabbit and egg were both symbols used then and now, the egg as a symbol of new life. It has translated to religion symbolizing life, death, life (resurrection), and nature's recycling keeps it intriguing. Equally intriguing is the timing of Easter. The date is not always the same. There was confusion about the paschal full moon versus the ecclesiastical full moon versus the astronomical full moon, and nature still recycles the full moon phases without perfect prediction by humans. So, it was established by a church decree in 325 that Easter would fall on the 1st Sunday after the full moon after the vernal equinox (usually March 21st). Naturally this depends which side of the international date line one is observing Easter. I know for instance that Easter was March 26th in 1978, because that is the day I left the hospital with my new baby. Maybe this is just part of the mystery that Easter is.

From oral tradition to the written testimony, eyewitnesses have attributed the site of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher as the place where Jesus was entombed, buried. Present times reveal the growth of belief from people all over the world who become pilgrims to the Old City, and realize Easter in their own faith.



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