Within the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, on the wall past the Stone of Anointing (Stone of Unction) hangs a large Greek mosaic that depicts the events of Jesus after His death on the cross up through His burial.
Spanning the breadth of the wall that overlooks the Stone of Anointing, the Greek mosaic is an artistic rendering of what the process that the body of Jesus Christ went through after His death. The mosaic depicts three scenes though the mosaic itself is one large piece.
On the far right of the mosaic, the three crosses of Calvary are shown with the body of Jesus being removed from the center cross. Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus are present as are Jesus’ mother, Mary, and the other ladies that were present at the crucifixion of Christ. One of the men is atop a ladder that is being used to climb the cross and remove Jesus’ body. Mary is embracing her Son while one of the other ladies holds Jesus’ hand. The other ladies are looking on. The scene itself portrays the anguish and turmoil that those who loved Jesus experienced through His crucifixion and death. This event was earth shattering for these followers of Jesus. He was the Promised One. He was the Messiah. And, now He was dead. They were distraught from the hope that they had in Jesus that now seems to be crushed. These followers are gently handling the body of the Lord.
In the middle of the mosaic, the body of Jesus is laying on the Stone of Anointing that has been draped in a cloth that will be the burial cloth that wraps the body of Jesus after the preparation has been completed. Mary, the mother of Jesus, cradles Jesus’ head in this scene while the other ladies look on in grief. Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea are located at the foot of the preparation stone. Three angels fly overhead offering their help and support. The background has several trees depicted among the rocky terrain of the area. Two bottles that would be holding the spices sit on the ground beside the Stone of Anointing.
On the far left of the mosaic, the two men, Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea, are carrying the body of Jesus to the tomb. The ladies are walking beside them and continue to touch and care for Jesus’ body. The body is now wrapped in the grave clothes in such a way that from the shoulders down, Jesus’ body is covered in the linens. His head is uncovered and is being held by His mother, Mary. The procession has just reached the tomb so that Jesus is taken into the tomb head first. Again, angels are flying above the scene in what would the upper left-hand corner of the mosaic.
The entire mosaic is bordered by a large, prominent frame. Seven lamps with rose colored glass fixtures hang from the arches that sweep over the mosaic. The prominent color of the mosaic is a bright yellow as all three scenes have that yellow background for the sky. The mosaic hands about five feet (1.5 meters) off the ground.
The mosaic is stunning in its beauty and its simplicity. Though detailed and large, the picture itself is impressively unassuming. Some of the most amazing events in history, Jesus’ death and burial, are captured in a meaningful and reflective manner.