Church of the Holy Sepulchre
In the Christian religion, this is one of the most revered spots on earth as it is beleived that this is Golgotha, the place of the crucifixion and of the Jesus tomb. Helena, mother of Constantine, determined the location of the place in 331 CE as she knew a pagan temple marked the spot. Hadrian had built a temple to Jupiter and Venus atop the scared spot in order to divide and quell the Early Christians. Upon excavating, Helena found the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea as well as three crosses. She believed that these crosses were left over from the crucifixion.
In 335, the church was completed and became a place of pilgrimage. However, in 614, the Persians destroyed it. It was rebuilt only to be destroyed again in 1009 by the Turks. When it was finally rebuilt, all of the small chapels and sanctuaries in the area were united under one big cross.
Upon entering the church, the visitor face a slab of rock. This, tradition tells, us is the rock upon which Jesus was annointed before being buried. All Pilgrims and Christian tourists who walk the Via here. Stations X though XIV of Christís Passion are within the church.
(Stations I through IX are along the Via Dolorosa.)
Jesus is stripped of his garments.
They took His clothes, dividing them into four shares. One for each of them, with the undergarment remaining. (John 19, 23)
Crucifixion: Jesus is nailed to the cross. In the church, the place is marked by a rocky outcrop.
Then they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it. And they crucified him. (Mark 15, 23)
This is the place where Jesus dies on the cross. In the chapel, there is a life-size sculpture of Jesus hanging on the cross.
It was now about the sixth hour, and darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour, for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Jesus called out with a loud voice, "Father, into Your Hands I commit my spirit." When he had said this, He breathed His last. (Luke 23, 44-46)
Jesus' body is removed from the cross (Pieta). Mary receives the body of Jesus. A statue of Mary with a silver dagger in her breast represents the grief of Mary mother of Jesus at this moment. We are also told that Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate to hand over the body. When Pilate is convinced that Jesus is dead, he does so. Tradition says that Joseph buries the body in an empty tomb .
Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Pilate agreed. ( John 19, 38)
Jesus is laid in the tomb. In the church, a marble slab covers a rock where it is believed the body lay. The Chapel of Angel commemorates the moment when an angel told Mary Magdalene that Jesus would be resurrected.
Taking Jesus' body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs. At the Place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid. Because it was the Jewish day of Preparation and since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there. ( John 19, 40-42)
This is the Holy Sepulchre, the spot believed by some Christians to be the tomb of Jesus. There is a cave here to mark the sombre place. As discussed in The Lost Tomb of Jesus, a new Jesus tomb has been discovered in Talpiyot.
Is the Holy Sepulchre the Real Place of the Crucifixion?
There is evidence that the Holy Sepulchre is not the exact physical spot of the crucifixion and the tomb. Bible scholars argue that an execution would never take place so close to Herodís Palace and that executions and burials are not permitted to happen so close to the city walls. Some archaeologists even claim that the city walls were reconstructed in the first century so as to place Golgotha outside the walls.
Others argue that crucifixions would have taken place well outside the city walls and in an area where many people passed by. The area would have to be large and open to accommodate soldiers and spectators as well as several crucifixions at once. This leads one to conclude that the actual spot would be a large open area close to a highway.
Despite these arguments, many Christians point out that the Early Christians were more focused on the Return of Jesus than on the actual site where he died. It was only a few centuries later that the exact sites became places of worship. As a result, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is traditionally revered as the site of the Jesus tomb.