"Full-on Christianity at The Holy Sepulchre Church" Jerusalem Things to Do Tip by Ekaterinburg
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The Church of the Holy Sepulchre is the Christian equivalent of the Western Wall I suppose but I must admit that I hadn't once thought about it when I contemplated my trip to Jerusalem. All the more surprising then when it hit me like a fist in the stomach and I found myself queuing up eagerly to bend down and kiss the place where Jesus Christ's body was made ready for burial. Even though I am a very lapsed Roman Catholic I suppose some things hammered into your head and soul at a very early age, never quite leave. My parents, especially my mother, were very devout Catholics and the thought of how thrilled she would have been, had she had the opportunity to see this place, made me want to perform all the rituals for her. So, along with Valentina I kissed the Stone of Unction or Anointing Stone, which is directly inside the main entrance of the church. The atmosphere of devotion here was overpowering and we followed up by buying bundles of 33 tapers from a cranky looking monk in a small side chamber. Valentina queued up to light hers from the sacred flame but I cheated and lit mine from a nearby candle. They burned brightly and as the strong flames shot upwards I found myself praying or attempting to telepathically transmit positive energy to all my loved ones. I hoped that somehow they could all feel some of the mystery and magic of the spell that Jerusalem casts.
Up one level from the Anointing Stone is Golgotha proper, the spot where Christ was crucified. The crowds here were overpowering but it is a testament to Christianity and to the many different orders of monks who run the church, that the devotional atmosphere prevails and you never get the feeling of this being just another stop on the tourist trail.
As a postscript to this tip I must mention that a few weeks later, back home in Ireland I saw the monks of the Holy Sepulchre exchanging fistycuffs on TV. This is not an unusual occurrence apparently and not to surprising when you realise all the different branches of Chrisitianity represented here. However, don't miss this amazing church when you are in Jerusalem and don't be surprised if it plays games with your head.
Open daily and free admission.
Address: Christian Quarter, Jerusalem
Directions: Between Suk Khan-e- Zeit and the Christian Quarter
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