Jerusalem, Palestine

Saturday, February 9, 1929

This morning I was just starting out when my guide friend came for me and when I told him I couldn’t give him anything, took me through the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and around the city, and then to his home for coffee. This basilica is most interesting. In front of the church is a paved court 50×75 feet. On the right, doors lead to three chapels—one to the Greek Convent of St. Abraham, one to the Armenian Chapel of St. John, and one to the Coptic Chapel of St. Michael. The church was made over by the crusaders. Inside all is dark and gloomy. In front of the entrance inside is the Stone of the Anointing. It is nearly on the level of the ground, 10x4x1, and of a polished red color. According to tradition, this stone covers the rock on which dead Jesus was laid when he was hastily embalmed and anointed by Nicodemus before being laid in the sepulcher. Forty feet to the left is the Place of the Holy Women, a circular stone over which is an iron cage, where the three Marys witnessed the death of Jesus. In the rotunda are several old paintings in their last stages. In the center of this rotunda is the Sepulcher of Our Lord. It is rectangular in shape, 24x15x15. The lateral walls are adorned with 16 pillars and the front with 4 twisted columns and ornamented with three paintings, each having a lamp. They belong to the Greeks, Latins, and Armenians. You first enter a little vestibule 10×7. This is the Chapel of the Angel because here the angel, sitting on a stone shaped like a millstone, announced to the Holy Women the resurrection of Christ. A fragment of this stone is inserted in the pedestal set up in the center. The chapel where the tomb of Christ is, also is very small and entered through a doorway four feet high. There on the right is the marble tomb covering the rocky tomb in which he was laid. This tomb has a long history and has several times been opened. Several hundred years ago when it was opened, a piece of wood, probably part of the cross, was found wrapped in a piece of worn cloth. A large crack was made on purpose in this marble slab over the top. Pilgrims kiss this slab, a monk attends in the chamber, and also keeps the candles burning by the tomb. There are numerous other places and altars in the church, each belonging to one of the five Christian sects: Greek Orthodox, Armenians, Latins, Copts, and Greek. These mark spots where the cross was found down in a grotto where Christ and the two thieves were put on the cross, etc.

From here my guide friend took me to have coffee in his home. In the afternoon I was crossing a street when a boy scout came up and took me to see an Armenian church service, consisting of much chanting and singing and perfume. Then we went to the Y where I met the assistant secretary who has studied in Chicago and had tea with him. Went back after dinner for a while. Later I met two American couples bound for India and staying at the hotel.

A little later I met two American boys who have been traveling as I have, on a bike, through Europe and across the northern part of Africa: Morton Hartman and Frank Aldrich [actually M. Frank Aldridge].

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