|From quarry to Garden (VIIIth cent. BC - 135 AD)|
* The door
* Sunday Vigil
Restoration work began in 1961 and archaeological trenches were opened in various points of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Thanks to these we can ascertain that the area around the Garden of Golgotha served as a quarry between the eight and the first century BC.
This quarry of malaky stone was confirmed by the extensive signs of tool cuts in the rock unearthed all over the area. It extended from today's Christian Road (Haret en-Nasara) to Khan ez-Zeit over an area which later on was to find itself between the two main roads constructed by Emperor Hadrian for his Aelia Capitolina. The cutting tools signs are also visible in the area of Chapel of the Finding of the Holy Cross.
Archaeological evidence shows that the tomb of Jesus had been dug out in an isolated spur of the quarry. In this spur the proprietor (Joseph of Arimathea at the time of the Crucifixion) had started the preparation of a family tomb. This new tomb facing east had a low door (one had to almost kneel down to get through the passage). It was closed by a big slab. On entering the low opening one found himself in a vestibule leading into the funerary chamber. Here only one funerary bench had been hewn in the northern wall of the funerary chapel (on the right hand, as one enters the tomb). It is probable that Joseph of Arimathea had intended to finish his family tomb by digging two other funerary benches in the western and southern walls but the events of the Holy Week completely changed his plans. It is in this funerary chapel and on this funerary bench that the dead body of Our Lord was laid. And it is from this tomb and from behind this "big stone" that his victory over death was proclaimed through His Resurrection. Today the tomb is completely covered by marble slabs (see further on).
This Garden of Golgotha remained outside the city walls of Jerusalem until the
building of the third perimeter wall, which was completed by Agrippa I (41-44 AD), enclosing the Garden of Golgotha within the city walls. Those years and the
following ones were years of turmoil due mainly to the arrogance and
incompetence of the Roman Procurators appointed to govern the territory. The
Jewish people yearned for freedom from the yoke of Rome. During this time
the Mother Church of Jerusalem, having its seat on Sion, visited the site of
the Garden of Golgotha and there celebrated the "Memory" of the great events of
the Crucifixion, Death and Resurrection of the Lord.
© 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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