Holy Sepulchre Guarded by Muslim Families


Image courtesy of Gali Tibbon / AFP / Getty Images

Why Christianity’s holiest shrine is guarded by two Muslim families

By Ishaan Tharoor / The Washington Post
November 1, 2016

“For me, the source of coexistence for Islamic and Christian religions is the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.”
— Adeeb Joudeh, the current keeper of the key

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem’s Old City is Christianity’s most hallowed shrine. It’s believed that the rock-cut tomb at the heart of the church was where the body of Jesus Christ was once laid.

Over the past week, for the first time in centuries, a team of conservationists and researchers removed a marble slab that lay in a rotunda, known as the Edicule, at the center of the complex. It’s the spot, as my colleague William Booth put it earlier this year, when the renovation project first began, “where millions of pilgrims have knelt and prayed, where the salt of tears and the wet of sweat have smoothed and worried the hardest stone.”

“I’m absolutely amazed. My knees are shaking a little bit because I wasn’t expecting this,” Fredrik Hiebert, National Geographic’s archaeologist-in-residence, is quoted by the publication’s website. “We can’t say 100 percent, but it appears to be visible proof that the location of the tomb has not shifted through time, something that scientists and historians have wondered for decades.”

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[See related National Geographic article with photos here . . . ]