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    The Stations of the Cross in Jerusalem - Reflection
    The 14th Station: HERE Jesus is laid in the tomb

    On the horizon the sun is almost setting. The spur of Ghareb is now deserted. Some soldiers have returned to their barracks, the elders to their homes, the people to prepare to celebrate the Pesah. An eerie silence and solitude reigned over Calvary.

    The women accompanied by John, Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus came down from Calvary. Joseph had offered to bury Jesus in his garden, just under Golgotha. Here he was preparing a new tomb for his family. No one had used it yet. "Under the circumstances, this tomb would do", thought Mary.

    They could not afford to go far away. They will not make it before the beginning of the festivities. Joseph assured them that this tomb will only house the dead body of Jesus.

    While coming down along the slope they noticed that several soldiers where still around and were following them. How come? Why? Was there a reason for their presence?

    They arrived at the tomb. All remained outside. Only Joseph, Nicodemus and John entered and laid the dead body of Jesus on the rock bench at the right hand of the burial chamber.

    The garden was silent. Only Mary's sobs could be heard. The men came out of the tomb and moved a big boulder in front of its entrance.

    As they turned, they saw the soldiers approaching and queried the reason for their presence. They had orders to stay by the tomb on guard. All were astonished. Was there any reason?

    They learned that the orders came from very high. The members of the Sanhedrin had asked for this particular treatment for the "King of the Jews". They wanted to make sure that he remains there and that no one dared come to steal the dead body.

    The women and the men, seeing the soldiers sitting by the now sealed tomb, could hardly believe their eyes. This was another "strange" situation which had been created by this death sentence carried out in the Holy City of Jerusalem.

    The soldiers were not too keen to stay there because they also thought that the elders had gone too far with their requests. But orders were orders and they settled down for a night of joking, playing and wine drinking by the tomb of Jesus in the Garden of Joseph of Arimathea.

    A Prayer

    Dear Jesus, you lie dead inside this cold tomb. You the light were laid in darkness. You the life, were laid lifeless on a rock-cut bench. You who preached freedom were sealed from the eyes of the world by a large boulder. You, the Almighty accepted to be confined to this small space.

    You accepted to pass through the pains of death to Redeem us. Dear Jesus, how could you resist the suffocating atmoshpere of this closed chamber? How could you let them do this to you?

    I have a thousand questions Lord but I know that on your lips will return the words you proclaimed in front of another tomb in Bethany:"it is for God's glory so that God's Son may be glorified through it". (Jn 11,4). In this silence of the Garden of Golgotha I hear again your words echoing from the tomb:"I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?" (Jn 11,25-26).

    Even in front of your dead body I must admit Lord, that I cannot but answer "Yes Lord, I believe". Strenghten in me this faith Lord, so that even death will never appear to me as doom for eternity but as glory of an everlasting life!

    The Site


    View of the Holy Sepulchre

    Once you come down from Calvary and pass by the Stone of the Unction, you proceed towards the Rotunda of the Anastasis (Resurrection) at the centre of which lies a free standing Aedicula. You pass by a circular slab surmounted by an iron cage and past the dominant supporting columns of the rotunda. The view is not something which fills you with any particular marvel and its shabbiness cries out loud for restoration. It is built completely out of marble slabs which were placed there to cover the ruins which the tomb had become in 1009 when it was broken down under the hammer of a fanatic Fatimite Islamic Sultan. The Aedicula comprises the outer Chapel of the Angel and the internal funeral chamber.
    medium sized image (71KB) - large image (215KB) - detail (243KB)


    Inside the tomb - a marble slab covers the rock bed where the Lord was laid

    In the centre of the Chapel of the Angel stands a marble pedestal which, according to tradition, contains the only remains of the boulder which once closed the entrance to the tomb. The actual sepulchral chamber is a small and awe-inspiring candle-lit space. A marble slab, laid there in 1555 by Fr. Boniface of Ragusa, Franciscan Guardian of Mount Sion, protects the rock of the tomb.
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    Another view of the tomb

    Over the tomb, there are a great number of silver lamps, which belong to the three Christian denominations who share the property of the tomb: Catholic, Greek Orthodox and Armenian Orthodox. It is here that Christ completed His earthly mission before His glorious Resurrection in accordance with the prophecies.
    large image (142KB) ---detail (large) (236KB)


    A view of the Sepulchral Chamber

    A small arched opening leads from the chapel of the Angel to the funeral chamber. Since the destruction of 1009 only the lower parts of the chamber subsist, visible behind the icon which is opposite the entrance and in the altar of the Copts which backs onto the monument.
    large image (137KB) - another detail (small) (22KB) - another detail (medium sized) (73KB)


    Another view of the Sepulchral Chamber where Jesus laid

    The funeral room of the Holy Sepulchre is 8.30m long, 5.9m wide and 5.9m high. As it stands today it is the Greek restoration dating from 1810.
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    Reflections and Prayers by John Abela ofm
    Descriptive text by John Abela, ofm and Michael Olteanu based on research by Albert Storm (SBF - Jerusalem)
    Hi-Res pictures prepared by Michael Olteanu
    Display pictures prepared by John Abela ofm

    THE WAY OF THE CROSS - Navigation
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    Last Supper | Gethsemane 1 | Gethsemane 2 | Prison | Holy Sepulchre | Procession

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