Inside the Main Entrance to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and past Stone of Anointing to the left beyond the Station of the Holy Women is the Edicule. This is a free-standing structure that sits under the towering rotunda that houses the tomb where the body of Jesus was laid after the crucifixion and from which Jesus walked after His resurrection.
The Edicule itself is an ornate structure that covers the actual tomb of Christ. The front façade has arches, columns, carved adornments and a single wooden door. Its roof is flat with an onion-shaped dome that sits atop a set of columns. The exterior walls of the Edicule are supported by steel girders to ensure its stability. These girders were added after an earthquake caused structural damage.
Inside the Edicule, a small passageway leads to the Chapel of the Angel which houses a piece of the rock that sealed the tomb of Jesus after He was buried. This is followed by the tomb itself which is a narrow burial chamber with a stone Flat slab that had been hewn from the rock where the body of Jesus was laid. For several centuries, a marble overlay has been atop the actual slab to protect the stone on which Jesus was laid to protect the stone from those who chisel out a piece for a souvenir.
At the rear of the Edicule is the Coptic Chapel which is a chapel that has been standing since 1573 and where services are performed inside of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre
The Gospels are clear that Jesus was crucified and then buried in a nearby tomb until His resurrection. It was prophesied that Jesus would be buried in a rich man’s tomb (Isaiah 53:9). Joseph of Arimathea used his own tomb in which to lay Jesus’ body. According to Matthew 27, the tomb was a new, unused tomb that was carved out of the rock. And, a large stone was rolled in front of the entrance way. This is where Jesus remained until He was brought back from the dead. (See Matthew 27, Mark 15, Luke 23, and John 19.)
The present day Edicule was built to replace the previous structure after the fire of 1808 by the Greek Orthodox Church. The previous structure had been built by the Franciscans in the 16th century. Damage from an earthquake and the effects of time have deteriorated the building significantly to the point where a major renovation is necessary. To stabilize the Edicule, unsightly steel beams have been put in place.
The Edicule houses the place where the most significant event in Christianity and in fact in all of history occurred, the resurrection of Jesus. Because of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, men and women, boys and girls can have their sins forgiven and walk in a personal relationship with God the Father by being reconciled by what Jesus accomplished as the perfect sacrifice. The resurrection secured the victory over death and hell. Without the empty tomb, humanity would be stuck in the chains of sin and the punishment for those sins. But, because the tomb is empty and Jesus is alive, we, too, can live.