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Renovation of the Tomb of Jesus Christ

Photograph by Oded Balilty, AP for National Geographic

Restorers working in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre uncover stone slab venerated as the resting place of Jesus Christ.

~~For the first time in centuries, scientists have exposed the original surface of what is traditionally considered the tomb of Jesus Christ. Located in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in the Old City of Jerusalem, the tomb has been covered by marble cladding since at least 1555 A.D., and most likely centuries earlier.

"The marble covering of the tomb has been pulled back, and we were surprised by the amount of fill material beneath it,” said Fredrik Hiebert, archaeologist-in-residence at the National Geographic Society, a partner in the restoration project. “It will be a long scientific analysis, but we will finally be able to see the original rock surface on which, according to tradition, the body of Christ was laid." (See an update on the discoveries inside the tomb here.)

To read the entire article by Kristin Romey and the video of the removal of the stone slab, please go to the following link.



St. Martyrs of the Jordan Church Inaugurated

AmmanOn Thursday, September 15, 2016, the faithful came together in prayer during the inauguration ceremony of the Martyrs of Jordan Church in Marj Al- Hamam in Amman. The name of the church represents the Christian martyrs whose blood was shed on Jordanian soil in the early periods of Christianity, at the time of the Roman persecution of Christians.

The inauguration of the church was marked by a Mass celebrated by Patriarch Emeritus of Jerusalem, Fouad Twal in the presence of Most Rev. Giacinto-Boulos Marcuzzo, Latin Patriarchal Vicar in Nazareth, retired Archbishop of the Roman Catholics Yasser Ayyash, parish priest Fr. Hanna Kildani, a number of priests and Knights of the Holy Sepulchre.

In his address, Fr. Kildani reviewed the stages, which led to the construction of the church. He thanked all benefactors including the Naber family, as well as, the engineers who designed and supervised the construction of the church.  He said, “The construction of a new church in Jordan reflects the security and stability prevailing in Jordan, which is attributed to the wise Hashemite leadership and the noble Jordanian people”. He continued, “At a time when churches and mosques are demolished in several countries in the Middle East, others are being built in Jordan which signals the peace and love prevailing among all components of society.”

In his homily, Patriarch Fouad Twal said: “It is very impressive to have the Latin Patriarchate name this new church “The Church of the Martyrs of Jordan”. This shows that Jordan is a country of holiness. Lord Jesus was baptized here by John the Baptist. Furthermore, John the Baptist was martyred here, in Mkawer. In the aftermath, several people lived in this region and were ready to sacrifice their lives and have their blood shed for the sake of the Gospel, Christ and the Church. They are the people whom Tertullian referred to as ‘The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church’.”

He added: “Honoring the martyrs of the past time does not exclude our admiration and our solidarity with the martyrs of our time. These martyrs are all the innocent people who were killed and forcibly displaced from their homes and cities because of their faith. At this site, where the church is located, brethren of ours from Mosul lived. They watched the church (The Martyrs of Jordan Church) being constructed every day – a people expelled from their country because of their faith. The same faith for which John the Baptist, Xenon, Zenas and others were martyred. Greetings to all those who still suffer because of their faith in Lord Jesus Christ.”

The building and completion of the church was made possible by the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, the Naber Catholic family of Jordan (Jamil, Shafiq and Issa Naber), Parishioners and Latens Foundation Chile.


Courtesy of H.E. Patrick Powers, Vice Governor General – North America           Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem



Renovation of the Tomb of Jesus

In recent weeks, scaffolding has gone up a few feet from the shrine in the gloomy shadows of the Arches of the Virgin, the first step in a rare agreement by the various Christian communities to save the dilapidated shrine, also called the Aedicule, from falling down.

The March 22 agreement calls for a $3.4 million renovation to begin next month, after Orthodox Easter celebrations.

So after a year of much study and negotiation, monument conservation experts plan to first remove the iron cage that Jerusalem’s colonial British rulers built in 1947 in a prior effort to keep the Aedicule from collapsing, after a 1927 earthquake and rain left the structure cracked, its marble slabs flaking.

They will take apart, slab by slab, the ornate marble shell built in 1810, during Ottoman rule of Jerusalem. The conservationists will then tackle the remains of the 12th-century Crusader shrine that lies underneath. That was erected after the Shiite ruler of Egypt, al-Hakim, destroyed the first Aedicule in 1009. The original was built by Helena, the mother of Emperor Constantine, the Christian Roman emperor who did much to elevate the status of Christianity through the empire.

Finally, the workers will repair cracks in the remains of the rock-hewed tomb underneath, where most Christians believe Jesus was placed after he was crucified.

A version of this article appears in print on April 7, 2016, on page A8 of the New York edition with the headline: Rival Christians Unite to Fix Perils at Jesus’ Tomb.


The major relics of St. Maria Goretti to visit Tulsa

November 10th & 11th will herald a once in a lifetime event for Tulsa Catholics.  St. Maria Goretti will be visiting on a Pilgrimage of Mercy as the forerunner of His Holiness' Year of Mercy which begins December 8th.

The National Catholic Register article giving a brief history of this young saint is linked here so that you may better understand who she was and why she is so special!


The Holy Land's Surprising Wave of Tourism...

Despite the violence rattling the Middle East, religious tourists are flocking to Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian territories.

In an article in the Wall Street Journal July 10, 2015, Nicolas Parasie examines the rise of tourism in the Holy Land despite the unrest and violence in the area.  Despite the decrease in the Christian population, Christian tourists have gone from 33% to 56% over the past decade.

To read the entire article, please follow the link.

Christian tourists, pilgrims and clergy held crosses as they walked outside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre during a Good Friday procession to commemorate Jesus Christ’s crucifixion, in Jerusalem on April 10. Photo: abir sultan/European Pressphoto Agency