The solemnity of the Dedication of the Holy Sepulcher

The Gospel of the Resurrection was proclaimed in front of Christ’s empty tomb. It was July 15—the day of the solemnity of the Dedication of the Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher—an important feast not only for Jerusalem, but for the whole Church. In fact, what is remembered is the anniversary of the dedication of the basilica in 1149, when the Crusaders consecrated the altar of the newly rebuilt church. As the place that contains the sepulcher of Christ, where Jesus was buried and where he rose, it is the most important basilica and represents the center of Christendom. It is the place of resurrection, as was recalled in the Gospel reading.

The Franciscan friars of the Custody of the Holy Land led the liturgy, which began at dawn in front of the edicule, and the Vicar, Br. Dobromir Jasztal, presided over the ceremony. Also present were many religious, faithful, volunteers and pilgrims. After the universal prayers, the Eucharistic liturgy took place right at the Christ’s tomb and the hosts were consecrated there.

Br. Dobromir’s homily focused on the mystery of the Resurrection, which “is understood only by taking into account Jesus’ life and all that he said and accomplished.” This is why witnesses to the resurrection (the women, Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary, the mother of James and then Peter and John) “are not mere witnesses to what they experienced with their senses, but they are witnesses who have received the mission to share the testimony of their encounter with Jesus.” It must, however, be a witness permeated by a living and personal faith. “To believe in Jesus’ resurrection is to walk, without violence, in this world of violence, as he did,” concluded Br. Dobromir. “It is to renounce all that leads to war and death. It is to reach out to the adversary, to ask forgiveness of the neighbor whom we have offended, to free ourselves from selfishness and to learn to love as Jesus, who died and rose for our salvation, loved.”

At the end of the celebration, Br. Sinisa Srebrenovic, sacristan of the Holy Sepulcher, took the floor, representing the Franciscans who reside at the Monastery of the Holy Sepulcher. “We have received the task by the Church to preserve this place and all of the Holy Places,” he said. “We are thankful for this immense gift and for this immense responsibility. May the Lord be our strength and our joy.”

Beatrice Guarrera