Christians Gather at Jerusalem’s Holy Sepulcher for EasterApr 24th, 2011 | By Roy Rasmussen | Category: Lifestyle
Christians from around the world celebrated Easter by gathering in Jerusalem at the Holy Sepulcher, the site traditionally honored as Jesus’ tomb. This year’s turnout was especially large because the Eastern Orthodox and Western Churches celebrated Easter on the same day.
Early Easter sunrise service celebrations began at dawn in Jerusalem at the Garden Tomb. Worshipers sang while facing an ancient, empty tomb carved into rock and inscribed with a quote from the Gospel of Matthew: “He is not here. He is risen.”
Main Easter services were held at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. Catholic priests and monks celebrated Mass while a cloud of fragrant incense rose above the tomb celebrated as the site of Jesus’ resurrection.
The earliest recorded mention of the site of the tomb and Church comes from the writings of the Roman historian Eusebius, who lived in the late 3rd and early 4th century. Eusebius records that the site had been a Christian site in the 1st century, but was turned into a temple of Aphrodite in the 2nd century by the Emperor Hadrian, who reconstructed Jerusalem in 135 following the Bar Kokhba revolt. The Emperor Constantine and his mother Helena rebuilt the site as a Christian site after Constantine converted to Christianity in the early 4th century.
Since then the Church has gone through several periods of damage and restoration. It is currently under the joint custodianship of the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Armenian Apostolic Church, and the Roman Catholic Church, with support from the Coptic Orthodox Church, the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, and the Syriac Orthodox Church. The Greek Orthodox Church of Jerusalem takes primary responsibility for guarding the site through the Brotherhood of the Holy Sepulcher, originally charged by St. Helena with protecting Christian sites in the Holy Land.