This year, the Dedication of the Holy Sepulcher took place in a tense atmosphere because of the attack that occurred at the Al-Aqsa mosque the previous day. The gates of the Old City were shut and its little streets were empty.
At the Holy Sepulcher, the atmosphere was reflective. Religious and pilgrims came together with the Franciscan friars in order to commemorate the anniversary of the Basilica’s opening, as has occurred every year since 1149, with the entire diocese of Jerusalem.
The solemn mass was celebrated in front of and inside of the Edicule by the Custos of the Holy Land, Fr. Francesco Patton, in the presence of the Custodial Vicar, Br. Dobromir Jazstal, and the President of the Holy Sepulcher, Br. Zacheusz Drazek.
This celebration dates back to the Crusaders’ era when the latter blessed the building that they had just rebuilt. Do not be confused, however, this is not about paying homage to the Crusades; this solemnity has the Basilica of Christ’s Resurrection at its core.
“We live in a world where violence, hatred and evil seem to prevail, but the empty Tomb reminds us that hatred and death have already been defeated,” said the Custos in his homily. “However, the witness of our faith in Jesus, [who] died and rose for us, implies something else; it means that we must be his witnesses in our daily encounters. It also implies that we should talk about our faith in Jesus who died and was resurrected for us.” He went on to conclude, “May the Spirit of the Lord permit us to recall and witness to everything that has taken place right here.”
“Here in the Holy Land, everything comes to life,” said Elisha, a young pilgrim from Canada. “Yes, here everything comes to life, not only the words of the Gospel but also our prayers.”