The Holy Land: The Church of the Holy Sepulcher
Seeing is believing! I saw the light from the flickering candles rising up into the dark and the natural light seeping through the dome to light the dark space. I was standing in line to see the tomb of Jesus Christ. The line to the Aedicule (the location of Christ's tomb) was long that I had a few moments to observe my surroundings and to reflect on the words "It's all about faith" that our guide unwittingly told me when I asked him about the authenticity of some relics early on in this pilgrimage.
We were at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in the Old City of Jerusalem, the holiest Christian site in the world. It stood at the site where Jesus was crucified (Calvary) and the tomb where he was buried. Today, the church is shared by five Christian denominations: the Greek Orthodox, the Roman Catholics, the Armenian Orthodox, Egyptian Coptic and the Eastern Orthodox Church, thus the different chapels. The heart of the church is the Rotunda where the tomb of Jesus is located, enclosed in a smaller structure called the Aedicule.
The Church of the Holy Sepulcher was full of visual images that helped awaken my senses to allow my mind to objectivity to understanding the mystery of the cross. Perhaps, it was the visual person in me needing to augment my senses to satisfy my need of the soul that I turned to the metaphor of light and darkness.
Of Light and Darkness:
1. A large dome over the site of the tomb of Christ (Aedicule) in the Rotunda of the Church. Natural light enters through the dome to illuminate the Aedicule.
2. Natural Light and Candle Lights lighting the dark space.
3. Stream of melted candles surrounding the Aedicule.
4. Medieval Peep Hole Viewer.
I took a photo of a pilgrim who was already inside the Aedicule
5. The oil lamps above the entrance door to the Aedicule and a man in robe replenishing the oil.
6. The light side is the entrance leading to the Stone of Unction, which commemorates the preparation of Jesus' body for burial. The dark side is inside the Calvary, the place where Jesus was crucified.
7. The first visible object to the sacred mystery is the Stone of Unction, which commemorates the preparation of Jesus' body for burial. A view of lamps suspended over the Stone of Unction.
8. Light enters through the windows overlooking the Stone of Unction.
9. Behind the hanging lamps is a mosaic of the 14th Station of the Cross: Jesus is laid to rest in the tomb. The 4 important figures - Jesus, Mary the Mother, Mary Magdalene and Joseph of Aremathea - are highlighted with gold inlaid crown.
10. At the Catholic Chapel, just to the left of the altar a Mosaic of the 13th Station (Jesus' body removed from the cross and given to Mary).
11. The Greek Orthodox crucifixion altar, said to be the exact site of the crucifixion. Underneath the altar marks the spot on the rock where the cross stood.
Note: All photos by the author