An Empty Tomb At the Church of the Holy Sepulchre: Easter in Jerusalem

12/04/2009
Easter celebrations at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre began on Saturday with a vigil beginning in the early hours of the morning in accordance with the Status Quo , and lasted for almost 24 consecutive hours.

After the three-hour vigil with the Latin Patriarch, His Beautitude Mg. Fouad Twal in attendance, along with about fifty other priests, seminarians from the patriarchate, some assistants, and some of the Franciscan custodians of the Holy Places, almost the same group gathered for a solemn procession in the afternoon, followed by vespers – for a total of about four hours of celebration.

During a break at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Arab Latin parish in Jerusalem began its own vigil at 7:00 p.m. followed by a traditional parade in the Christian Quarter, which was in turned followed by joyous musical performances put on by the city’s young people. They had barely stopped playing their drums when the organ at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre resounded again at 12:30 a.m. for a liturgical celebration in front the empty tomb with the Franciscan community and the Custos of the Holy Land, Pierbattista Pizzaballa, in attendance. Around 1:45 a.m., the friars took a short break before returning to find the same people in attendance for the Easter Day Mass, which was held at 7:30 a.m. in the same place.

While the atmosphere at the night celebrations was tranquil and particularly conducive to reverence, the Saturday morning vigil and the Easter Day Mass were celebrated together with our Coptic brothers, very few of whom did not break out in resounding demonstrations of joy. During the procession around the Tomb after Sunday morning’s mass, they interrupted their own Palm Sunday celebrations to make way for the procession and broke out in joyous ululations and did not hesitate to say fervent prayers as the Patriarch passed by. He had some difficulty moving forward, what with the many that extended their arms in an attempt to touch him.

Palm Sunday was also being celebrated by the Syrian Orthodox in their chapel, the Armenians in their upper gallery, and the Greek Orthodox in the Katholikon. All of them took advantage of the chords of the organ from the Latin Rite celebration.

“We experience life and resurrection every time we feel that we are living members of this Church,” the patriarch said during the homily.
The Church of Jerusalem is indeed vibrant and rich with its variety of languages, rites, and calendars.

Today, we say to the faithful from the Latin Rite, “Christ is risen; He is risen indeed! Hallelujah!”

Happy Easter to everybody.

Mab

2009/04/12 - An Empty Tomb At the Church of the Holy Sepulchre: Easter in Jerusalem