Sunday 6th July 2014
This morning I again made an early start and climbed up the Via Dolorosa to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Even though I had no “booking”, I again approached the Franciscan sacristan and he was as obliging as he had been yesterday. Today he accommodated me at the Our Lady Altar. It is on Calvary and is the small altar situated between the Nailing to the Cross, the Eleventh Station of the Cross (where I celebrated yesterday) and the site of the Crucifixion (Twelfth Station of the Cross, under the management of the Greek Orthodox).
The site is the Thirteenth Station of the Cross. It commemorates the deposition, the dead body of Christ being taken down from the cross and laid in the arms of his grieving mother. It is called “Our Lady of Sorrows” (La Donna de Dolorosa), or Mater Dolorosa (Mother of Sorrows). The most famous artistic presentation of this tragic scene is probably Michelangelo’s statue of the Pieta in St Peter’s Basilica in Rome.
I again offered the Eucharist for family, friends, relatives, confreres and colleagues.
After the Mass, for the first of the several times that I have visited the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the queue for visiting the Tomb where Jesus was buried and where he was raised from the dead was relatively short, the Franciscans having just finished the Sunday Morning Mass. So I joined the queue and had a few moments kneeling at the marble slab inside the tomb.
It was a few moments only. The space is small. Only four people at a time can get in. They have to turn around and come out the same way before others can go in. So in fairness to all, that each have a few moments at this sacred site, the turn over is fairly rapid!
I realised this morning that the metal barriers they use inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre for organising people in orderly queues are the same as those that the police use for crowd control and checkpoints, a sort of moveable panel for a makeshift sheep-yard – which, on reflection, is probably appropriate, for the crucified and risen Lord is the Good Shepherd Who laid down His life for His sheep and we are His flock!!
Shalom, Peace, Salaam!!!