This Saturday, the celebration of the Dedication of the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre took place in Jerusalem. This is a solemn event that the friars of the Custody of the Holy Land have honored every July 15 for 874 years. On July 15, 1149, 50 years after the conquest of the Holy Land, the Crusader Knights consecrated the new Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre after decades of rebuilding and restoring the former Constantinian structure.
The Church of the Holy Sepulchre houses Golgotha, which is the site of Jesus’ crucifixion and death, as well as the empty tomb of Christ. It is the place where Our Savior was buried and where He rose again on the third day. This Basilica is considered the holiest location in Christianity and the only church consecrated by Jesus Himself, with His blood.
The solemn Mass brought together the Franciscan community of Jerusalem to commemorate this anniversary in front of the empty tomb of Christ. The Custodial Vicar, Fr. Ibrahim Faltas, presided over the Mass. In his homily, he emphasized the significance of this sacred place and the mission that the Friars Minor have been carrying out here for over 800 years:
“We are in the most important place in the world which has attracted millions of pilgrims since its foundation, to worship an empty tomb […]. For more than 800 years, we the Franciscans have been in the Holy Land and we look after this holy place, with the constant presence of our friars and continuous prayer, trying to protect it because it represents the heart, the centre of Christianity of the whole world. Ours is an important task: to bear witness to the experience of a Church that lives in the capital of the Resurrection”.