Passion, crucifixion and anointing
Once inside, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre opens itself to the pilgrim with its wealth of memories gathered together in the place where they actually occurred: here Jesus was crucified and won the battle against death.
On the right unfold the memories linked to the passion, death and anointing of Jesus.
Up a number of steep stairs, to the right of the entrance, is “mount” Golgotha. The rock on which the cross was raised, and which at the time of the pilgrim Egeria was still out in the open, today rises 5 meters and is visible at several points behind glass plates.
The elevated surface created by the Crusaders is divided into two naves: to the right is the Chapel of the Crucifixion, belonging to the Latins, in which the 10th and 11th Stations of the Way of the Cross are celebrated commemorating Jesus being stripped of his garments and his crucifixion, as depicted in the mosaic at the rear; to the left is the Chapel of Calvary, which belongs to the Greek Orthodox, where the faithful can kneel before the altar in order to touch the rock, through a silver disk, at the place in which the cross of martyrdom of Jesus was raised. Here is carried out the 12th Station of the Way of the Cross where the dying Jesus consigned his soul to the Father, while the 13th Station is in front of the Altar of Our Lady of Sorrows.
The chapel beneath Calvary is dedicated to Adam, the progenitor of humanity. It is here that the Crusaders placed the remains of Godfrey de Bouillon and Baldwin, first King of Jerusalem. The Crusader tombs were destroyed by the Greek Orthodox at the time of the restoration following the 1808 fire. Ancient Jerusalem traditions are represented in a number of chapels placed along the eastern ambulatory: starting with the Chapel of Adam one comes upon the Chapel of Derision, the Chapel of the Division of the Holy Robes and the Chapel of St. Longinus, before arriving to the Prison of Christ. Entering the small room of the Prison one passes through a portal decorated with Crusader capitals depicting an unusual version of Daniel in the Lion’s Den.
The Stone of the Anointing, which is located directly ahead upon entering the church and was mentioned for the first time by the pilgrim Riccoldo da Monte Croce in 1288, commemorates the anointing of the lifeless body of Jesus and is especially venerated by Orthodox pilgrims. On the wall behind the stone, the scenes depicted in the modern mosaic allow one to follow the path of Jesus being taken down from the cross, sprinkled with perfumed oils and placed in the new tomb of Joseph of Arimathea.
According to the Gospels, several women followed the events from a short distance away: thus the commemoration of the “three Marys” placed underneath the small canopy not far from the Stone of the Anointing in the direction of the Anastasis, in front of the Armenian mosaic of the crucifixion which dates from the 1970s.