After a nine-month period of restoration, the Holy Edicule in which is the very Tomb of our Lord Jesus Christ, an official reopening took place with a very solemn, spiritual and impressive service respite with resounding chant of both the Armenian and Greek orthodox patriarchates, monks and faithful. Of course, the many and various other denominations were well represented and also contributed to the beauty and significance of the historical event.
Only a year ago, it would be hard to imagine that the various groups would be able to work together in harmony to realize the renovation that was so badly needed. It was even feared that the aedicule itself would eventually collapse form the weight of decay and the passage of so many centuries without reinforcement. There was even a time when pilgrims would chip pieces of the rock and take them away as souvenirs of their pilgrimage.
With the Greek, Armenian and Latin (Roman Catholic) churches working together and in a miraculous feat of solidarity, they were able to celebrate the culmination of efforts on Wednesday March 22nd.
In making the excavations and renovations, a type of miraculous event has occurred which has not been so widely reported. Excavation beneath the layer of concrete over the original slab of Christ’s Tomb, unseen by a human eye for over 700 years, a slab of granite was found, very well worn with a unique and beautiful Cross etched in the middle. This proves that in spite of many doubters who say that the site is not authentic and could not possibly be the site of Christ’s original and authentic tomb, with the passage of time, wars, fires and devastations of many other kinds, this spot was clearly a place of great devotion much earlier than some of the catastrophic events that people site to prove that the location of the site within the Holy Sepulchre (sorry about my Canadian spelling) is questionable.
Having been a pilgrim and having prostrated myself before the Tomb and burial place of Christ, I can assure you that no human words of wisdom or scientific explanation can describe the tremendously profound humility with which you are drawn to your knees on this amazing and sacred site. There is something inexplicable about the very fact that thousands upon thousands of people from diverse ethnic backgrounds, and various geographical locations have travelled thousands of miles over many centuries, risking life and limb and every kind of danger to become witnesses of the burial place of Christ.
It is my urgent prayer that as many who desire to travel to the Holy Land and seek to become “mahdesi (one who has seen death)”, have the God given opportunity to do so and to make the pilgrimage. Not only as a Christian but more specifically as an Armenian Christian so that the importance and centrality of our presence in the Holy Land, the Holy Sepulchre, Mount Zion and the Holy Convent within the Armenian Quarter of the Old City, will be a memory and experience that will change your life and your understanding of what you are forever. An Armenian without Christ is lost.
If you would like to make a much-needed donation toward the renovation costs incurred by the Armenian Patriarchate, please go to www.savethetomb.org or call 508-233-2091. savethetomb.org is a mission of the Armenian Church-Eastern Diocese