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April 13, 2011April 13, 2011  2 comments  Uncategorized

A documentary film, whose release was timed with the Easter season, claims that nails found in a 2,000-year-old tomb in Jerusalem could have been the very ones used to crucify Jesus.

Though that exact claim is inconclusive, the Israeli-Canadian filmmaker Simcha Jacobovici announced his findings on Tuesday in Jerusalem and promoted a new film of his regarding his findings.

“In the future things that look far fetched today may become facts tomorrow,” he said.

Jacobovici, whose findings are oftentimes mired in controversy, displayed two rusted, bent iron nails claiming that perhaps these were the very ones used to crucify Jesus to the cross 2,000 years ago on Golgotha. He said these nails were discovered 20 years ago in a Jerusalem excavation. They were found in a tomb, believed to be the tomb of Caiaphas, the high priest who handed Jesus over to the Romans to be killed.
 
“These are probably, possibly, the nails from that Caiaphas tomb. So, if you accept that this is the tomb of Caiaphas and, if you accept that these nails came from that tomb, given that Caiaphas is only associated with the crucifixion of Jesus they very well could be those nails,” Jacobovici said.

His film, “The Nails of the Cross,” will air on the History Channel and other major TV channels during the Easter season in the U.S., Latin America, Canada and on an Israeli channel, the first time Israeli TV will run a program featuring a historical analysis of Christianity.

A 1st-century tomb discovered in East Jerusalem in 1990, believed to be that of Caiaphas, contained the nails. According to Jacobovici, the nails mysteriously disappeared shortly after that until he tracked them down at Tel Aviv University, in the lab of an anthropologist who is an expert on ancient bones.

Jacobovici said 1st-century Jews regarded crucifixion nails to be a talisman of sorts.

But, “there’s no proof that the nails are connected to any bones or proof from textual data that Caiaphas had the nails for the crucifixion with him after the crucifixion took place and after Jesus was taken down from the cross,” said archaeologist Gaby Barkay. “On the other hand, those are possible things.”

Jacobovici speculates that Caiaphas may have become a follower of Jesus and taken the nails, or simply wanted them as an amulet to help him in his afterlife.

“Why would someone take these nails to the grave with them? I would say that in rabbinic literature there is only one kind of nail that is like an amulet and that is crucifixion nails,” Jacobovici said. “I guess that it is an insurance policy in the after life.”
 
At this point, there is no way to scientifically prove that these are the nails that crucified Jesus.

“From what I understand you cannot get DNA from iron. Maybe in the future they will be able to. So no real testing beyond looking at the limestone has been done on these. I think they have been looked at to see if there is bone residue and none has been found. I don’t think you can get blood and flesh,” Jacobovici said.

The Israel Antiquities Authority issued a statement: “Nails were commonly found in burial tombs of that period. The most accept view is that they were used to carve on the ossuary the name of the deceased. The claim that these nails had any other significance is baseless and a figment of the imagination. The theories presented in the film have no archaeological or scientific basis.”

Four years ago, he teamed up with James Cameron, director of the Titanic, to unveil what they claimed was the ossuary of Jesus. The burial chambers were marked with the names of Jesus, Joseph and Mary. These claims were contested by archaeologists and scholars.

By Nicole Jansezian, Travelujah

Nicole Jansezian writes for www.travelujah.com, the only Christian social network focused on travel to the Holy Land. Travelujah is a vibrant online community offering high quality Christian content, user and expert blogs, travel tours and planning services for people interested in connecting with or traveling to the Holy Land.


March 18, 2010March 18, 2010  1 comments  Uncategorized

In the West, Easter is usually a simple one-day affair. The different denominations in Israel, however, each celebrate Easter in their own special way and, particularly in Jerusalem, where a high concentration of Christians gathers, a variety of different ceremonies unfolds.

armenian, easter, jerusalem

So how does the oldest Christian community in Jerusalem celebrate Easter? With their own Quarter in the Old City, the Armenians boast a history in Jerusalem dating back to the 4th century. In 301, Armenia became the first country to adopt Christianity as the nation's religion. Since then, there has been a continual Armenian presence in the Holy Land, where Mount Zion served as a base for Armenian pilgrims to Jerusalem.

 

The traditions of the Armenians are as enduring as the people themselves. From Palm Sunday until the day after Easter Sunday, the days are filled with services, many unique to the Armenian church in Jerusalem.

 

"The holy places require a different approach and schedule for the celebrations," Archbishop Aris Shirvanian told Travelujah. "When you are abroad, you have one church, no other community. It is pretty simple abroad."


Not all the rituals are religious. Some are simply an extension of the celebratory atmosphere and an effort to involve the entire community. The two Armenian social clubs each have marching bands with bagpipes and drums that proceed with the Patriarch and priests to the Holy Sepulchre on Holy Saturday. Anybody in the Old City near Jaffa Gate can view the parade, listen to festive music and watch the scouts go by in their uniforms.

 

On Palm Sunday, the Armenians, Copts and Syrians join together for a processional three times around the rotunda in the Holy Sepulchre, each chanting or singing in their own language. An elaborate foot washing ceremony takes place on Holy Thursday in St. James as the Armenian Patriarch washes the feet of twelve of the priests, imitating Jesus washing the disciples' feet.

 

One of the services unique to the Armenians is the Holy Thursday processional from the Holy Archangels Church, which is the site of an olive tree believed to be the one to which Jesus was tied while he awaited an audience with Annas, the father-in-law of Caiaphas the High Priest (John 18:19-24). According to church tradition, Jesus was brought here to Annas' house after his arrest in Gethsemane to await trial with the high priest. The church is also known as Deir al Zeytune, the Convent of the Olive Tree.

 

The Franciscans have their own processional as well from this church that usually occurs on a different day. However, this year the dates for Orthodox and Catholic and Protestant Easter coincide and the processional will be on the same day.

 

For Lent, Armenians fast all animal products such as meat, dairy and eggs. The fast is traditionally broken on Easter eve, after the Holy Fire ceremony at the Holy Sepulchre.

 

Another service unique to the Armenians in Jerusalem occurs on the Monday following Easter. The priests hold a processional in the courtyard of St. James with the parish's relics. This morning ceremony is held particularly for the pilgrims from Armenia to appreciate the Armenian heritage in jerusalem.

 

"Pilgrims coming (to Jerusalem) strengthens their faith and is a moral boost for us as Christians," Shirvanian said.

 

Shirvanian knows that from experience. He himself was raised in Haifa, but moved to Jerusalem to attend the Armenian seminary and study to be a priest.

 

"My life was completely changed living in this atmosphere among the holy places," he said.


By Nicole Jansezian, Travelujah


Nicole Jansezian writes for Travelujah.com, the only Christian social network focused on travel to the Holy Land. Travelujah is a vibrant online community offering high quality Christian content, user and expert blogs, travel tours and planning services for people interested in connecting with or traveling to the Holy  Land.


April 1, 2010April 1, 2010  0 comments  Uncategorized

armenian, easter, foot washing, st. jamesWhether attending a special mass, a foot washing ceremony or joining a procession to the Upper Room, thousands of Christians continued their observances of Holy Week.

Also on Thursday morning, thousands of Jewish worshipers went to Western Wall to take part in the Priestly Blessing, which usually occurs on the second intermediate days of the feasts of Tabernacles and Passover.

The convergence of Jewish and Christian holidays this year has made for an especially crowded Old City with locals and foreigners alike thronging the holy sites to pray and reflect. But that is exactly what Mike Toller of London returned to Jerusalem to see.

“I was here once before and I thought it was an amazing place,” he told Travelujah, the only Christian social network focused on learning about and traveling to the Holy Land. “I wanted to come back at the most crazy time of the year.”
easter, jerusalem, last supper

Toller figured with both Orthodox and Catholic/Evangelical Easters coinciding with each other plus Passover this year, it would be the perfect opportunity to see Jerusalem at its “maddest time.” And Jerusalem did not disappoint as the city swelled with visitors this week.

Toller and Cass Harwood, also from London, were taking in the fast-paced days attending services and processionals, some even by accident. They happened upon the Armenian observance of Jesus’ time in chains before meeting Caiaphas, the high priest. They didn’t understand a word of the service, conducted entirely in Armenian, but said it was fascinating to see a ceremony so different from English services. The two caught up quickly on the tradition with their guidebook at the Holy Archangels Church.

The annual service begins at the Holy Archangels Church, known to some as the house of Annas, the father-in-law of Caiaphas (John 18:19-24). They believe Jesus was brought here aftearmenian, jerusalem, easter, olive treer his arrest in Gethsamane to await trial with the high priest. Church tradition says that Jesus was tied to an olive tree on the premises and that olive tree still exists today.

From there, the Armenian Patriarch leads a procession to St. Saveur Cemetery for more prayers.

An Armenian contingent from the United States, with many first-timers in Jerusalem, was also at the ceremony. Lena Altebarmakian from Fresno, Calif. said she couldn’t wait to communicate with her family and friends the experience of being in Jerusalem for Easter.



“Today when I visited the Mount of Olives it was as if the pages of the Bible were opening in front of my eyes,” she told Travelujah. “It’s real, it’s here, and it’s fascinating.”

 

By Nicole Jansezian, Travelujah



Nicole Jansezian writes for Travelujah.com, the only Christian social network focused on travel to the Holy Land. Travelujah is a vibrant online community offering high quality Christian content, user and expert blogs, travel tours and planning services for people interested in connecting with or traveling to the Holy  Land.


March 24, 2010March 24, 2010  0 comments  Uncategorized

Whereas the Jerusalem Easter service for Catholics and Orthodox Christians takes place at the Holy Sepulchre church, Easter services for Protestants are held at the place revered by them as the site where Jesus died and rose again, the Garden Tomb.

The layout of the Garden Tomb is designed for people to be able to sit and pray quietly while viewing what is believed to be Skull Hill, Golgotha, and the tomb where Jesus may have been laid.

Easter is no different. In fact, the services on Easter Sunday morning are outdoors and take into account the natural setting. Beginning with a sunrise service, the Garden Tomb hosts services in English, French and Scandinavian languages.

golgotha, garden tomb, jerusalem, easterWhile guides at the Garden do not claim that this is definitively the site of the resurrection, they point to the possibility that it could have been the garden of Joseph of Arimathea, who offered his tomb for Jesus’ burial. On one side, the garden faces a hill that has been identified possibly as Golgotha, where Jesus was crucified. The jagged rocks of the hill make seem to take the appearance of a skull, but years of erosion have mitigated its image.

But the focus here is not on proving whether this was the actual crucifixion and burial site of Jesus, rather on providing an experience where Christians can reflect on what Jesus did.

“The place is not particularly a shrine to us,” Richard Meryon, CEO of the Garden Tomb, told Travelujah. “It is the person who is important to us here, not the place. We open the Bible and talk through the Gospel accounts and the good news of the weekend that changed the world.”

The Garden Tomb creates “an experience for visitors that engages them in the reality of the risen Lord Jesus.”

Celebrating Easter as “sun comes up in a place that looks like the place where the resurrection took place, to do that in Jerusalem in front of an empty tomb is a phenomenal experience,” Meryon describes.

However, he notes that the power of the resurrection is not limited geographically.

The Garden Tomb (Jerusalem) Association, a Charitable Trust based in the United Kingdom, manages the site which was purchased in 1894.

For those who run the Garden Tomb, the focus is not on the sites themselves but on the sacrifice that occurred here when Jesus willingly died for the sins of the world. Guides explain  facts about the tomb and how it fits with details given in the Gospels.

But ultimately they point out the tomb is empty, the greatest miracle and basis of the Christian faith. As the angel asked Mary in Luke 24:5, “Why do you look for the living among the dead?”

Easter services: A service in English is held at the Garden Tomb on Good Friday from 9 to 10 a.m. and then the Garden Tomb is open for private prayers until 5: 50 p.m. On Saturday, the Garden Tomb hosts a service in Arabic at 4 p.m. The on Sunday April 4, the order of services includes a 6:30 a.m. English sunrise service and another English service at 9:30 a.m., both led by Richard Meryon with the King of Kings Worship Team and a message by Andrew Jack. At 11 a.m. is a Scandinavian service and lastly, at 12:30 p.m. a French service is held. The Garden is closed for the remainder of the day, as it normally is on Sunday, after the services.

 

By Nicole Jansezian, Travelujah



Nicole Jansezian writes for Travelujah.com, the only Christian social network focused on travel to the Holy Land. Travelujah is a vibrant online community offering high quality Christian content, user and expert blogs, travel tours and planning services for people interested in connecting with or traveling to the Holy  Land.


March 28, 2010March 28, 2010  0 comments  Uncategorized

As is customary throughout the world, feasting is as much a part of Easter as the services and ceremonies. It is no different in Jerusalem where dining out or having a big family meal at home will be on the menu for local and foreign Christians alike.

After Palm Sunday, bakeries in the Christian Quarter will become abundant with Easter treats, however, anything baked or eaten up until Easter adheres to the Lenten fast. Lenten fasting is taken very seriously in this part of the world: The baked products are exclusive of animal products so no eggs are used. Also, Christians don’t eat meat.

easter, jerusalem, christian, cookiesEaster treats made prior to the feast are made without eggs. Some of the popular ones are flat-pressed cookies made with sesame seeds and honey. Others include dates or walnuts, popular fillings for holiday cookies.   

Shawar’s Bakery, a Christian-owned bakery on 54 Christian Quarter Road, is one of the few places where you can purchase these festive holiday treats. In time for Easter, Shawar’s and others will sell the traditional sweet bread laced with painted Easter eggs.

Since meat is also fasted during Lent, Easter dinner includes a traditional lamb dinner to break the fast. While many area restaurants will be open on Easter Sunday, one in particular is hosting a special dinner.

Shababeek has a prix-fixe Easter menu on Sunday, April 4 from noon to 3 p.m. The menu includes Arabic salads and appetizers, a choice of stuffed lamb necks, stuffed French chicken, grilled denis and knafeh, a sweet cheese dessert. Plus coffee, special Easter cookies and eggs. The price is 120 shekels for adults and 90 shekels for children under 12.

Shababeek is located in Sheikh Jarrah on 7 Shimon Ha Sidik. For reservations, call 02.532.2626.


March 31, 2010March 31, 2010  6 comments  Uncategorized

The Orthodox Easter-date is fixed according to the Julian Calendar, and not the usual Western European Gregorian calendar, which means that their Easter normally falls on a different date than the Protestant and Catholic Easter.


Holy Fire


There is one day a year when Jerusalem’s Old City is teeming with so many people that anyone happening upon the city unawares would wonder what is happening.

Saturday of Light, or Sapt il-Noor, is the celebration of the holy fire. The event occurs the day before Easter Sunday and continues a centuries old tradition beckoning pilgrims from all around the world to the city, the very sight where the first Jesus rose again.

T
holy 
sepulchre, jerusalem, orthodoxhe ceremony takes place at the Holy Sepulchre and is always the first Saturday after Passover begins. It is observed only by the Eastern Orthodox churches, Syrian, Armenian, Russian and Greek Orthodox as well as Copts. Catholics and Protestants do not participate.

“The Holy Fire is the beginning of Easter Eve, a symbol of the resurrection,” Armenian Archbishop Aris Shirvanian told Travelujah, the only Christian social network focused on learning about and traveling to the Holy Land. “I have witnessed people get excited during these ceremonies in the Holy Sepulchre when they see the holy fire coming out of the holy tomb.”

According to The Holy Fire website, the event is the most renowned and regularly occurring miracles in the Eastern Orthodoxy religion. It has taken place at the same time, in the same manner, in the same place every year for centuries, the website maintains.

Pilgrims, primarily from Greece, Russia, Armenia and Eastern Europe, begin lining up from the day before. Local Christians also join the throngs in an attempt to get into the Holy Sepulchre for the celebration.

In the late morning, Christian Arabs proceed to the church loudly chanting traditional hymns. These chants date back to the Muslim occupation of Jerusalem in the 13th century. At the time, Christians were only allowed to chant in churches, but in modern times they declare publicly, “We are Christians, we have been Christians for centuries, and we shall be forever and ever. Amen!”

All of the denominations have a procession through the narrow Old City streets to the church. Many of the processions involve marching bands with bagpipes and drums. The Syrian Christians comprise perhaps the loudest of the processions. Drummers sit on the shoulders of others who dance vigorously around the tomb when they enter the church.

The last denomination to enter is the Greek Orthodox processional. The Greek Patriarch is ushered into the church, and with pomp and circumstance, he circles the tomb three times. He is then stripped of his ornate liturgical robes and he enters the tomb in his white frock at approximately 1:45 p.m.

Silence finally overtakes the church as celebrants await the miracle of the Holy Light. A delegation of Israelis enters the tomb to check for any hidden source of fire and then seals the door.

The Greek Patriarch and an Armenian priest are sealed into the tomb where they pray and await the fire. What happens then, according to Eastern Orthodoxy, is that a flame leaps from the tomb of Jesus. The Greek Patriarch catches the flame with him candle and passes it to the Armenian priest. Then the two spread the flame to the candles of celebrants throughout the church.

The effect of the lit candles throughout the church and even to pilgrims waiting outside is stunning. Church bells ring in jubilation and resound throughout the Old City marking the end of the ceremony.


History


The first written account of the Holy Fire dates from the fourth century. Accounts by the Russian abbot Daniel in the years 1106-07 also describe a similar ceremony.

The Orthodox believe the fire’s emergence is based on Matthew 28:3, which says that at Jesus’ tomb, an angel  of the Lord appeared whose appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow.


Travelujah Tips


To enter the Holy Sepulchre or get anywhere close to it, be sure to secure passes from one of the Orthodox churches. Be prepared to wait at crowded checkpoints in the Old City and be faced with the possibility of not getting in at all despite having a pass.

 

By Nicole Jansezian, Travelujah


Nicole Jansezian writes for Travelujah.com, the only Christian social network focused on travel to the Holy Land. Travelujah is a vibrant online community offering high quality Christian content, user and expert blogs, travel tours and planning services for people interested in connecting with or traveling to the Holy  Land.

 


April 1, 2010April 1, 2010  0 comments  Uncategorized

The Holy Sepulchre Church in Jerusalem's Old City is claimed by about 14 denominations, making for crowded services at times. Most of the Orthodox and Coptic churches celebrate the Holy Fire ceremony on the Saturday of Light, April 3 this year, and the entire Old City will be flooded with local and Christian pilgrims trying to get into the church for the service.

 

One of the perks of being in Jerusalem for Easter is seeing the plethora of different types of Christians all packed into one setting. The following are some of the Christian denominations observing the Easter week services.

 

easter, orthodox, holy saturdayGreek Orthodox

 

The Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem considers itself to be the Mother Church of the city and the uninterrupted continuation of the first Christian community, beginning with James, the brother of Jesus. Though the church has had official leadership in Jerusalem since the 5th century, a permanent residence was established in 1845. The Brotherhood of the Holy Sepulcher has sought to safeguard the status of the Orthodox Church in the Holy Places since 1662.

 

On the Saturday of Light, thousands of Orthodox faithful carry bundles of candles signifying the 33 years of Jesus' life, packed into Christianity's holiest shrine on Saturday to celebrate Easter's holy fire ritual. The Greek Patriarch passes the flame from inside the tomb to believers inside the church's main hall who light their own candles and torches.

 

The parishes are predominantly Arabic-speaking, and are served by Arab married priests as well as by members of the Brotherhood of the Holy Sepulcher. The community numbers about 120,000 in Jerusalem, the Galilee, Judea, Samaria and Gaza.

 

Ethiopian Orthodox

 

The Ethiopian Orthodox Church has had a community in Jerusalem since at least the Middle Ages, but pilgrims from Ethiopia reportedly began visiting Jerusalem as early as the 4th century. An archbishop leads a community of a few dozen monks and nuns who live here today. This monastery has been home to a Ethiopian monks since 1808.

 

The  Ethiopian community in Jerusalem conducts its own Holy Fire ceremony later on Saturday evening in the courtyard of the Deir Al-Sultan monastery on the rooftop of the Church. It is an elaborate ceremony that many visitors make the effort to go see. Priests carry brightly colored umbrellas with tassels and fringes and follow the Archbishop of the Ethiopian Church, with a candle carrying the Holy Fire, in a dance around the dome of the Chapel of Saint Helena. Drums accompany the singing and chanting.

 

Syrian Orthodox

 

The Syrian Orthodox Church is the only church to still use Aramaic in its liturgy and prayer. The church is a successor to the Church of Antioch and is one of the oldest Christian communities in the Middle East. The Syrian patriarch resides in Damascus while the local Church has been headed by a bishop in Jerusalem since 1471.

 

The monastery, St. Mark, located in the Armenian Quarter, was built in the 7th century. The community numbers about 2,000, most of whom live in Jerusalem and Bethlehem.

 

Coptic

 

The Coptic Orthodox Church originated in Egypt during the first centuries. Copts claim to have arrived in Jerusalem with Helena, mother of Constantine. This church had an early influence on the development of desert monasticism in the wilderness of Judea. Since the 13th century the church has had a bishop in Jerusalem representing the Coptic Patriarch of Alexandria.

 

In Israel today the community numbers just over 1,000 members in Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Nazareth.

 

Maronite

 

Maronites are Christian followers of a priest named Maron, who spent his time in the mountains of modern day Syria or Lebanon and died in the year 410. The Maronite Church is Catholic, having been in  communion with the Roman Catholic Church since 1182, but it is the only Eastern church that is entirely Catholic. It retains, however, its own language, rites, canon law and liturgy. Most Maronites today live in Lebanon.

 

The Maronite community in Israel numbers some 6,700, most of whom live in the Galilee. Jerusalem's Maronite Patriarchal Vicariate dates back to 1895. The church has a guest house, Mar Maroun House on Maronite Convent Street near Jaffa Gate.


April 4, 2010April 4, 2010  0 comments  Uncategorized

Jerusalem's Old City was awash with thousands of Christians on Easter Sunday on hand to cap off a week of ceremonies marking the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, his last supper, trial, death and resurrection.

 

easter, good friday, holy sepulchre, jerusalemMost of the pilgrims converged at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre for services there. Another highlight on Sunday was the sunrise service at the Garden Tomb geared toward Evangelical Christians. The sunrise service was followed by services in different languages all morning.

 

This year, the Orthodox date for Easter, on the Julian calendar, and the Catholic and Protestant Easter, on the Gregorian calendar, coincided along with the Jewish Passover making for a busier than usual holiday season in Jerusalem.

 

On Saturday afternoon, bells peeled across the Old City marking the Holy Fire ceremony, an annual Orthodox observance of a flame emanating from Jesus' tomb in the Holy Sepulchre. Thousands of Christian pilgrims from Russia, Armenia, Greece, Egypt and America were on hand for the ceremony, each lighting their own candle from the flame in the tomb.

 

Later on Saturday, the Ethiopian church held its own holy fire ceremony. Dressed in white linen, Ethiopian local Christians and pilgrims participated in festive African praise songs accompanied by drums.

 

easter, jerusalem, ethioppiansThe Ethiopians celebrate on the roof of the Holy Sepulchre and the annual event draws many non-Ethiopian locals and foreigners to observe the joyous occasion.

 

It was Kornelius Heering's first time at the ceremony.

 

"It was very different from Europe and not what I expected to see here in Jerusalem," the German theology student told Travelujah, the only Christian social network focused on traveling to the Holy Land. "It was more reminiscent of Africa."

 

The Ethiopian archbishop of Jerusalem walks around the dome on the roof three times under an elaborately decorated umbrella. He is led and followed by priests, drummers and other worshippers.

 

Connie Saeger-Proctor, an American from Vermont, was there to see the ceremony, and it was her first trip to the Holy Land. She saw the candle from the holy fire ceremony in Jerusalem being brought to Ramallah for the churches there.

 

"There's such a connection here with the light of Christ coming into our midst after the Lenten season," she told Travelujah.

 

By Nicole Jansezian, Travelujah


Nicole Jansezian writes for Travelujah.com, the only Christian social network focused on travel to the Holy Land. Travelujah is a vibrant online community offering high quality Christian content, user and expert blogs, travel tours and planning services for people interested in connecting with or traveling to the Holy  Land.



March 30, 2011March 30, 2011  0 comments  Uncategorized

A time of reflection and a time or preparation, Lent in the Holy Land is a solemn and serious season for its spiritual implications, but also its geographical importance in the Holy Land where one can follow the passion of Jesus throughout holy sites in Jerusalem.

With just over three weeks until Easter, Lenten preparations are well underway. And although Easter is a popular time for Christians to visit Israel, many faithful believers from around the world like to visit during Lent in order to spend their reflection and preparation in the very places where Jesus prepared for his final few weeks on earth.

Currently, the churches are full with Christians from America, Russia, Ukraine, Romania, Greece and other nations attending special masses for the season.

With a line up of special masses, visitors may want to take part with the local churches during Lent. Some of the special events include a mass on April 3, at 9:30 a.m., the 4th Sunday of Lent, that will feature the entry of His Beatitude the Latin Patriarch into the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre, followed by the High Mass in the Chapel of St. Mary Magdalene.

On April 10, the 5th Sunday of Lent, High Mass will be celebrated in the Tomb, sung by Frairs of the Holy Sepulchre.

All of the services eventually culminate in Easter, which this year is Sunday, April 24. This year, Easter falls on the same day for Orthodox and Catholics.

 
By Nicole Jansezian, Travelujah

Nicole Jansezian writes for www.travelujah.com, the only Christian social network focused on travel to the Holy Land. Travelujah is a vibrant online community offering high quality Christian content, user and expert blogs, travel tours and planning services for people interested in connecting with or traveling to the Holy Land.


April 3, 2011April 3, 2011  3 comments  Uncategorized

Easter in the Holy Land is essentially centered on one specific tradition, the Holy Fire ceremony, which takes place on the Saturday before Easter, and is the hallmark of this holiday's season in Jerusalem for local Christians plus the thousands of faithful who make the pilgrimage to the Holy Land for this special occasion.

All of Lenten and Easter events culminate in that moment, when the spirit of Jesus fills the tomb site in the Holy Sepulchre. According to their belief, a flame appears in the tomb and is caught by the Greek patriarch and an Armenian Orthodox priest and is shared with congregants holding candles in the church.

Because this event is specific to Jerusalem geographically, it can be celebrated nowhere else in the world. Pilgrims, many from Greece, Russia, Armenia, Eastern Europe and the United States, begin lining up from the day before. Local Christians also join the throngs in an attempt to get into the Holy Sepulchre for the celebration.

On that morning, all of the churches have a procession through the narrow Old City streets to the Holy Sepulchre.

The day is referred to as Saturday of Light, or Sapt il-Noor and occurs the day before Easter Sunday.
The ceremony is observed only by the Eastern Orthodox churches, Syrian, Armenian, Russian and Greek Orthodox as well as Copts. Catholics and Protestants do not participate.

History of the Holy Fire


The event is considered a regularly occurring miracle in the Eastern Orthodoxy religion that has taken place at the same time annually in the same place for centuries, the holy fire website says. The first written account of the Holy Fire dates from the 4th century while accounts from 1106 and 1107 by the Russian Abbot Daniel describe a similar ceremony.

The belief of the holy fire is based on Matthew 28:3, which says that at Jesus’ tomb, an angel  of the Lord appeared whose appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow.

Travelujah Tips


To enter the Holy Sepulchre or get anywhere close to it, be sure to secure passes from one of the Orthodox churches. Be prepared to wait at crowded checkpoints in the Old City and be faced with the possibility of not getting in at all despite having a pass.
 
The Holy Sepulchre Church in Jerusalem's Old City is claimed by about 14 denominations, making for crowded services at times. Most of the Orthodox and Coptic churches celebrate the Holy Fire ceremony on the Saturday of Light, April 23, 2011, and the entire Old City will be flooded with local and Christian pilgrims trying to get into the church for the service.


By Nicole Jansezian, Travelujah

Nicole Jansezian writes for www.travelujah.com, the only Christian social network focused on travel to the Holy Land. Travelujah is a vibrant online community offering high quality Christian content, user and expert blogs, travel tours and planning services for people interested in connecting with or traveling to the Holy Land.

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