|Rock of Calvary|
Out we stepped into the blazing heat. We knew it was going to be hot, but it was even HOTTER than hot - 40 Celsius which is 104 Fahrenheit! Ouch! Still, everyone did very well and we saw an incredible amount today.
We walked along the Cardo Maximus to the Damascus Gate (below.)
The Cardo, or "heart" to the city, was the main street in Roman and Byzantine times. Originally paved by Hadrian in the second century, the Cardo runs along a North/South axis and features a gigantic Souq, or bazaar/market. Today, the road and Souq thrive in the heart of the Jewish Quarter in the Old City.
Once at the Constantinian entrance to the Church of the Resurrection, we explored the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. One of the highlights was the Ethiopian chapel with its old artwork and gracious hospitality. The Greeks, the Armenians, and the Catholics have secured large portions of this holy site and the Ethiopian Church is only a little less ancient.
After a while here, we went back into the Souq so that we could have a lunch at the Family Restaurant!
Now it was time to see the place where Christ was crucified. Even though the giant and beautiful monumental tomb is there in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, this isn't an actual tomb. Even though the church is extremely touristy, I personally could not hold back emotions after kneeling down underneath an upstairs altar under which is said to be the geographic location of the Crucifixion at Golgotha. Many others in our group were also visibly moved.
Tricia Henderson of St. James Episcopal in Baton Rouge, LA says of another location underneath the Church of the Holy Sepulchre: "To see the pilgrim crosses scratched into the walls by people from many years ago, to glance at hundreds of candles lit by pilgrims today, to notice pilgrims praying everywhere...this was overwhelming. This is our source - the church eternal the church triumphant!"
Another inspiring and emotion moment for our group was watching people rub burial shrouds, crossed, or wedding veils over the anointing stone in preparation for different events.