|The latest achievement|
* The door
* Sunday Vigil
On 2nd January 1997 the Church of the Holy Sepulchre "breathed" life again. The rays of sunlight came down again to illuminate the area where the tomb of the Lord stood. It was 10.00 am when the drapes that covered the newly restored dome where drawn to the awe of the faithful and personalities that took part in the simple but very significant ceremony. This is the latest achievement in the "recovery" of the monument on this Holy Shrine for Christendom. The signs of hope foreseen way back in the sixties are bearing fruit. All visitors to the Holy Sepulchre in recent years have never been able to see this dome as it was completely obscured by a scaffolding awaiting the agreement between the three major rites that officiate at the Holy Sepulchre. We surely express the wish of all Christians that this place, witness of such a "Loving Mystery", be truly not only well-kept but also raised in its dignity. It is true that even artistic expressions, coming as they are from the East and West, if planned well, can bring a harmonious atmosphere to an overburdened site.
And from under the "Light" coming through the transparent lantern of the Dome we cannot but look with renewed hope at the shabiness of "The Tomb" girdled by metal beams to protect it and avoid its crumbling under the weight of time. A hope to see even "The Tomb" freed from the accumulation of time's burdens. May this not be only a dream but a vision of a future which the living generations can partake in its inherent beauty. With this inauguration of the decoration on the Dome a new "Light" enters at the site from where the "Light of the World" came forth on Resurrection Sunday.
It was on 17 August 1994, that Fr. Giuseppe Nazzaro,ofm, Custos of the Holy Land, Diodoros I, Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, and Torkom Manoogian, Armenian Apostolic Patriarch of Jerusalem, signed an historic agreeement in the Patriarchal Hall of the Greek Patriarchate to restore the dome. The final design consists of 12 streams of gold, representing the 12 Apostles. From each ray branch three streams of light, symbolizing the Trinity. Light from the dome's central skylight, as well as from concealed artificial sources enhances the mother-of-pearl background which brightens as it ascends and sparkles with stars. The background is a representation of the biblical description of the luminous cloud of the Divine Presence.
May the "Light of the Lord" shine throughout the World, as today a ray of light came in from the dome to lighten the dark corners around the site of the Resurrection! May this be another stepping stone in building the oecumenical dialogue that may at last remove all the supporting structures from this Holy Shrine.
Address of His Beatitude Diodoros I
The stage We have reached today is very significant for this Holy Place, and it
is also a significant sign of progress of all the works that the Three
Christian Religious Communities (i.e. the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate, the
Custody of the Holy Land, and the Armenian Patriarchate), have undertaken in
this universally accepted Christian Monument. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre
keeps alive Its liturgical identity as a Place of Worship, while maintaining
Its unique contribution to the world's cultural heritage.
Today's Ceremony, unique in its kind, is the splendid fruit of required cooperation among Our already mentioned Three Religious Communities for the restoration and decoration of The Great Dome. Beyond this, it is an expression of Our brotherly coexistence in this Place, which teaches forgiveness, reconciliation, love, and unity, since He in Whom We believe, and Whom We proclaim, Lord, here "extended His arms and united what before was divided", calling all of us "to be one ." (John 17,21). It is a proclamation of the presence of long centuries of Christianity in this Holy Land, which in three years time, will celebrate the Holy Jubilee of the Birth in Flesh of Christ, Our Lord..
Therefore, We pray that this event may become the spark of Our spiritual approach. That in deep consciousness of Our responsible mission, We may enter to the Third Millennium, led by the Truth, which is Christ. And having in common the Faith of the Gospel and the Rule of exemplary Diakonia of Love toward all people.
Sharing these thoughts on this memorable occasion, We cordially thank all of
You present, rejoicing with Us. We express heartfelt sentiments of Our Beloved
Brothers, His Paternity, the Custos Giuseppe Nazzaro, and His Beatitude,
Armenian Patriarch Torkom Manoogian, and in thanking Our consultants and all
those who contributed to the realization of this project. Especially, We
congratulate Mr. and Mrs. George Doty for their magnificent, generous
contribution and pious participation in this project in which the decoration of
the Dome was fulfilled. No doubt, history will preserve their names among the
great benefactors of this Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
© Text prepared by John Abela ofm based on articles and research
by Virgilio Corbo ofm, Michele
Piccirillo ofm and Eugenio Alliata ofm
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