Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Israel Day 2: The Christian Quarter And Churches

On entering the Christian Quarter, we first visited the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer. Built between 1893 and 1898 and dedicated by Kaiser Wilhelm II, who entered Jerusalem for the dedication on a horse to much fanfare.

Then we headed to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.

During Christian Holidays and the cooler months, the lineup to enter can take hours, if not in some case a day or more. In the late July heat, it was almost no waiting at all.

Here's a picture of the famous (or infamous) immovable ladder at the outside of the Church.

The Church of the Holy Sepulcher is shared by six denominations, each of which guards their claimed portion of the church. This makes any maintenance difficult as if one party does it, the other groups fear it lets them expand their claim. Fistfights can and do occur on a regular basis between monks of the different sects for things as small as moving a chair toward the other's space or leaving a door open at the wrong time.

The ladder apparently was placed there by someone in the first half of the 19th century. Since no one knows who it was or what sect he belongs to, no one dares move the ladder as it might upset the status quo, and its been there since at least 1852 and hasn't been moved since.

Entering the Church you first see the Stone of Anointing, and many pilgrims kneel upon it, pray on it, kiss it, or place objects on it to have them blessed.

Beautiful artwork adorns the walls, telling the story of the crucifxion and resurrection.

Then you find yourself under the rotunda, which lets the sun in casting its rays down into the church.

The you see the The Aedicule which houses the tomb itself.

Interestingly, some sects enter the The Aedicule shrine area by the front entrance and others from the other side, depending on who controls what entrance.

Chapels are all around the Aedicule area, many with extensive adornments.

Some of the pilgrims and worshipers also lit candles in various designated spots.

The Church of The Holy Sepulcher is a very impressive and awe-inspiring building.

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