CHURCH OF THE HOLY SEPULCHER IN JERUSALEM GUIDED TOUR
The holiest place in Jerusalem for all Christian believers is undoubtedly the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. It was built on the very place where Jesus Christ was crucified, buried, and then resurrected, in atonement for human sins. today you have an amazing chance to visit the Church of the Holy Sepulcher with a private tour guide.
HISTORY OF THE CREATION OF THE CHURCH OF THE HOLY SEPULCHER
In the first centuries of Christianity, the disciples of Jesus came to these holy places, and then the first Christians, who believed that Jesus was crucified on Calvary and Risen on the third day, was truly the Son of the Living God. Persecuted by the Roman authorities, the first Christians worshiped these places in secret.
To bury the hopes and feelings of believers, the Roman emperor Andrian in 135 AD ordered the place between Golgotha and the burial cave to be covered with earth and pagan temples built on it. In the holiest places for Christians, the pagans put their idols: on the site of Golgotha - Venus, and the site of the burial cave - Jupiter.
Having adopted Christianity, the Roman emperor Constantine first ordered the construction of a temple of amazing beauty on the holy site. For this, Queen Helena, the mother of Emperor Constantine, arrived in Jerusalem. Queen Helena at that time was already at a rather old age and, having converted to Christianity, made a pilgrimage tour to Jerusalem.
Fortunately, the emperor Hadrian did not level the rocks in which the tombs were carved to the ground, but collected a large amount of earth here, forming a huge embankment, and thereby saved the tombs from destruction.
Thanks to this, Queen Elena and Bishop Macarius in 325 managed to find the tomb of Jesus, as well as the crosses of Jesus and two robbers. They say that to understand which of them is the cross of Jesus, Queen Helena laid them one by one at the tomb of the deceased, as she passed the procession. At the touch of the Life-giving Cross, the miracle of resurrection occurred.
By order of Emperor Constantine, all the boulders from the holy place were removed, only two remained: one from Golgotha, on which the Cross was erected, and the other from the Holy Sepulcher, isolated by a huge stone chapel, which was given the name Anastasis, which means Resurrection.
The first Temple on this site began to be erected in 326 and finished in 335. Everything was decorated with marble, glittered with gold and precious stones. But this Temple stood for less than 300 years and was destroyed by the Persians in 614.
After that, the Temple was repeatedly restored, destroyed, experienced natural disasters, and rebuilt. The form in which it appears before us today, it acquired in 1810, after being restored after a severe fire.
From 1852 to the present, the territory of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher has been divided between six religious Christian communities: Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Armenian (these three communities belong to a large area), Coptic, Syrian, Ethiopian (the latter's monastery is on the roof of the temple). Prayer hours are strictly defined for each of the denominations.
Since conflicts often occurred between confessions at different times, the keys to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher have been kept in a Muslim family since the middle of the 12th century. And for many centuries they are passed on to the eldest son from generation to generation.
COMPONENTS OF THE CHURCH OF THE HOLY SEPULCHER
The modern Church of the Holy Sepulcher consists of three main structures: the Church on Calvary, the Chapel of the Holy Sepulcher, and the Church of the Resurrection.
Above the Temple is covered with two domes: one is located above the chapel of the Holy Sepulcher, the other is above the Church of the Resurrection. Previously, there were seven open doors in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, but since the middle of the 19th century, only one has remained.
Directly in front of the entrance doors is the Anointing Stone - one of the greatest shrines of the Christian world, which is a low slab about 2 meters long. On it, the body of Jesus Christ, taken down from the Cross by Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, was sprinkled with “a mixture of myrrh and aloe” and wrapped in a shroud.
The stone exudes a liquid that leaves a faint pleasant scent. Earlier, according to a pious custom, pilgrims used to illuminate by placing a white cloth on the anointing stone, the same size as the stone itself. Then, this canvas was taken with them and kept until the hour of death, bequeathed to wrap their body in it. Now pilgrims often illuminate crosses, scarves, and charms on the stone.
Another shrine of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher is Golgotha, to the top of which a marble staircase leads. The throne and the mosaic on the wall remind of the event that took place here, depicting Jesus nailed to the Cross, two grieving women, the Most Holy Theotokos and Mary Magdalene, and in the background a soldier who just drove nails into Jesus' hands and feet.
Two black circles on the floor mark the places of the crosses of the two thieves crucified with Jesus. On the right was the cross of the thief who asked Jesus not to forget him in the Kingdom of Heaven. On the left was the cross of the thief who did not repent and mocked Jesus on the cross.
Under the altar stands the top of the rock, on which, according to legend, the Cross was erected. This place is glazed and marked with a silver disc.
The wall of the Resurrection Church is located right behind the Anointing Stone. It belongs to the Greek Orthodox denomination. This church is also called a cathedral, it occupies the middle of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. And we can say that this is a temple located inside the Temple.
In the center of the Resurrection Church, there is a floor marble vase, symbolizing the center of the Christian world - the famous “navel of the earth”. According to legend, at this very place, God created Adam.
If you turn to the left from the Stone of Confirmation, you will find yourself in the Rodonta of the central Temple, in the center of which is the tomb of Jesus.
The Tumb of Jesus inside is divided into two limits: the limit of the Holy Angel and the Holy Sepulcher itself.
In the center of the limit of the Holy Angel stands a tall marble vase, in which is embedded a part of the stone rolled away by the Angel from the Holy Sepulcher. The chapel of the Holy Angel is a kind of passage to the second chapel of the tomb structure, where a very low entrance leads, so all pilgrims should bend low before entering the limit of the Holy Sepulcher. Here is a stone ledge that served as Jesus' deathbed for three days. Hence, He was resurrected to atone for human sins.
It is in the tomb structure that every year the miracle of the appearance of the Holy Fire on Holy Saturday on the eve of Easter takes place. For millions of believers, this is a sign that Jesus Christ really IS RISEN. The first mention of receiving the Holy Fire dates back to the foundation of the Church of the Resurrection of Christ in the 4th century. And since then, this great miracle has not been interrupted for a single year.
THE HOLY FIRE ON HOLY SATURDAY ON THE EVE OF EASTER
Traditionally, on Holy Saturday, the Patriarchs of the Greek Orthodox and Armenian Churches enter the tomb structure. The Patriarch of the Greek Orthodox Church enters the boundary of the Holy Sepulcher, where he prays for the sending down of the Holy Fire. The Patriarch of the Armenian Church is in the Angel's Limit and makes sure that the Greek Patriarch does not light the fire using natural means.
It should be noted that the reception of the Holy Fire occurs only through the prayers of the Orthodox Patriarch.
They say that representatives of the Armenian Church in 1579 agreed with the new leadership of Jerusalem so that they would be given the right to receive the Holy Fire. This year, representatives of the Jerusalem Orthodox Church were not even allowed into the Temple. Representatives of the Armenian Church entered the tomb structure and began to pray fervently for the mercy of the Holy Fire, but their prayers were never heard.
Representatives of the Jerusalem Orthodox Church also prayed fervently at the closed gates of the Temple. And in this year, the Holy Fire for the first time descended not in the tomb structure, but through one of the marble columns at the entrance to the Temple, and after splitting it lit candles in the hands of the Orthodox Patriarch.
This split column can still be seen on the left side of the entrance to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.
Also, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher includes numerous chapels, borders, and monasteries belonging to representatives of various confessions.
One of which is the Church of St. Helena - the crypt full of charm is dedicated to the mother of the emperor Constantine, who, guided by a sense of true faith, found here the tomb and the Cross of Christ. It is believed that from a niche located to the right of the main altar, Queen Helena watched the excavation. The church belongs to the Armenian community.
The location of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher: the Old City of Jerusalem, entrance through the Jaffa Gate, Christian Quarter, st. Saint Helena.
In the spring-summer period (April-September): daily from 05-00 to 20-00
In the autumn-winter period (October - March): daily from 04-30 to 19-00
The entrance is free.