The Dedication of the Holy Sepulchre: disfigured and transfigured beauty

The solemnity of the Dedication of the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre, dating back to 15th July 1149, was commemorated and celebrated on Wednesday 15th July, according to tradition.

Consecrated in September 355, the complex of buildings built by Emperor Constantine and his mother, St. Helen, called the Basilica of the Anastasis or the Holy Sepulchre, has undergone a number of transformations in different and particular historical periods.

The present-day basilica is a synthesis of what remains of the Constantinian buildings and of the building built by the Crusaders and brings together the places of the Calvary and the Empty Tomb under the same roof, almost as though to show that the death and the resurrection of the Redeemer cannot be separated.

The Custos of the Holy Land, Fr. Francesco Patton, who presided the celebration, in his comment on the Gospel, dwelled on disfigured and transfigured beauty, as a possible synthesis of the feast-day being celebrated. "These two aspects,” Fr. Patton said, “concern Jesus of Nazareth who was crucified and rose, concern the Church and concern each one of us."Disfigured beauty can be found in the first reading (Isaiah 53,2-5), and a reference to the beauty that is transfigured and traced back to Christ Risen can be found in the verses of the psalm(Psalm 15[16],10) and in the Gospel (Luke 24,5-7). "This place, and today’s feast-day, reminds us that there is also a disfigured and transfigured beauty in the Church," Fr. Patton underlined. "If we are celebrating the dedication which took place in the times of the Crusaders, it is because the Constantinian basilica was to a great extent and on several occasions destroyed and restored. It is as though this place carries in itself physically not only the memory of the passion and the resurrection of the Lord but also the passion and resurrection of the Church: the passion and the resurrection that the Body of Christ lives in history as an extension of the passion and resurrection of its Head.”

Before the conclusion, Fr. SinisaSrebrenovic, the first sacristan of the Holy Sepulchre and Discreet of the Holy Land, spoke to thank the few faithful presents and the Custos. "In the 800 years of Franciscan presence that has just been celebrated, the last few decades have seen a very high flow of pilgrims but the majority of our predecessors experienced a situation similar to now, praying and guarding the holy places in the name of the Catholic Church. As the Franciscan community, we work alongside them, continuing to pray for all those who are here and for those who cannot be physically present in these places.”

 

Giovanni Malaspina