Holy Week – Jerusalem

FIRST: If you read anything it should be the posts about the Easter Mass and Miracle of the Holy Fire because they by far the most interesting. Otherwise just scroll down or look at the bottom of this post.

Holy Week commemorates the week of events in the New Testament leading up to Christ’s crucifixion (Good Friday), starting with his triumphal entry into Jerusalem (Palm Sunday), culminating in his resurrection (Easter Sunday) and including many famous events such as the Last Supper, the Passion of Christ. Most of the important events are celebrated in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, a large domed cathedral in the heart of the Old City and Christian Quarter. Most of the events I attended were Catholic, even though I am not Catholic, I just thought it would be interesting to see how these are celebrated.

A little commentary on the Church of the Holy Sepulchre: This is a strange church. It’s the traditional, orthodox place where Christ was crucified, buried, and resurrected, and generally thought as the most important place in Christianity. Because of that, most of the denominations of Christianity bicker over it constantly. Although the Eastern Orthodoxy is in control of most of the Church, followed by the Roman Catholic Church (represented by the Franciscans), and Armenian and Coptic, etc all other denominations are allowed “rites” to carry out ceremonies within the Church. To stop the constant arguing a status quo was established in 1853 as an extensive set of rules dealing what can happen where, what can be done where, etc. The status quo is incredibly extensive and extensively obeyed and disobedience leads to dire consequences. For example, the doors to the Church can be only opened and closed at certain times. While I was at the Funeral Procession the doors were closed and a monk was sick and needed to be rushed to the emergency room. They would not open the door because it would violate the status quo. Instead they passed the monk through a small opening in the door and took him to the hospital. Other ridiculous examples include a 150 year old ladder that has not moved because no one knows whose territory it falls in and a fist fight that erupted between the Franciscans and Orthodoxy because a Franciscan monk accidentally left a door open and the Orthodoxy interpreted this as an insult. But during Holy Week all sects run a tight ship and the Church runs like a well oiled machine on an immutable schedule. It’s as amazing as some of the celebrations themselves.

Palm Sunday

Palm Sunday Processional

Holy Thursday

Pilgrimage to the Cenacle                  Holy Hour in the Basilica of Agony

Good Friday

 Way of the Cross

Funeral Procession

Holy Saturday

            Easter Vigil             Miracle of the Holy Fire       Service at the Garden Tomb


Easter Sunday

Easter Mass

Sunrise Service at the Garden Tomb

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~ by jonathanmtsai on April 27, 2011.

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