The Holy Sepulchre

Thursday 19th June 2014

This morning we were scheduled for an early Mass at Calvary/Golgotha, the place in the Holy Sepulchre, where, according to ancient custom, Jesus was crucified. We left the house at 5.30am. We arrived at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre about 15 – 20 minutes later. There were already quite a few pilgrims milling around, some attending Masses or viewing sites. We found our way to the sacristy, which was closed. Our Mass was scheduled for 6.00 am.

When the sacristan came we went in to discover that an Italian priest was scheduled for Mass at Calvary at 6.00 am. Even though we had a paper that indicated we had that reservation, somehow the sacristan’s official booking did not record our reservation, so, since there was an official schedule and we were not on it, quite understandably, the sacristan was not going to budge and we were not able to celebrate the Mass as intended.

However, we climbed the steps to the platform on hill of Calvary within the Holy Sepulchre and joined with the congregation for the Italian Mass. In that way were able to fulfill our desire to be part of the Mass in that sacred spot. I had celebrated Mass at that altar on my first visit here thirty years ago.

The site where we attended Mass is the place where Jesus is said to have been nailed to the cross. The traditional site of the crucifixion was another adjacent altar to our left on the raised platform of the hill of Calvary. It marks the site where the crucifix was said to have been erected. Underneath that altar is a ‘hole’ in the ground. Pilgrims kneel in front of the altar and prostrate to kiss the actual spot on the ground under the altar.

During the Mass, I remembered especially my brother, John. I prayed also for my parents, for all the members of my family – siblings, nephews and nieces and their partners and spouses and children – uncles and aunts, other relatives, friends, confreres and colleagues. It was a privilege to be part of the Mass, to remember the death and resurrection of The Lord.

The altar at Calvary in the Holy Sepulchre

The altar at Calvary in the Holy Sepulchre

After the Mass was finished, another Mass started straight away, again in Italian, so I was able to take the above photo of the altar and the mosaic above the altar showing Jesus nailed to the cross.

For more detailed information on the Church of the Holy Sepulchre here are some websites:

For Christians, the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ are the means by which God has reconciled us to Himself and to each other. May that reconciliation bear fruit in our lives, in reconciling peoples of different faiths and ethnic backgrounds, especially in this place where it took place 2,000 years ago.

Shalom, Peace, Salaam!!!


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