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Station of the Holy Women


Inside the Main Entrance to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and past the bench where the Muslim keeper of the keys sat for so long is the Stone of Anointing, which is also called the Stone of Unction. This stone marks the place where Jesus’ body was prepared for burial after it was taken down from the cross. With the Greek mosaic hanging behind the Stone of Anointing, turning left and moving toward the rotunda, a visitor would come to the Station of the Holy Women.

Description

The Station of the Holy Women is covered by a four-pillared structure with marble arches holding a marble rooftop. A hexagon rises above the pillars to a point, thereby forming the roof of the structure. The Station of the Holy Women itself is a round stone that marks the spot where Mary, the mother of Jesus, Mary Magdalene, and the other women stood to watch as Jesus was crucified on the cross of Calvary. Directly in the center of the round stone sits a golden vase holding a lamp. Just outside of the structure stands an iron basin that holds another candle.

Biblical Account

As Jesus was nailed to the cross then hoisted up so that the cross stood vertically, the book of John reports that Jesus’ mother, Mary, her sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene stood by and observed the horrific experience. Mary watched as her Son experienced the harsh, cruel death of crucifixion (John 19:29). The other ladies were moved as well for Mary’s sorrow and for their own because they, too, were followers of Jesus. It is from this spot that Mary received the comforting words of Jesus as He instructed John, the disciple that He loved, to care for Mary, Jesus’ mother, as if she were His own mother (John 19:26-27). Amid the physical and spiritual anguish of the cross, Jesus showed incredible love and compassion to His mother by ensuring that she would be cared for after He was gone. From this spot, the ladies could witness Jesus dying, being removed from the cross and His preparation for burial. With heavy hearts, the ladies experienced the sorrow that Mary was promised would come as early as Jesus’ birth. Upon taken Jesus to the temple to be circumcised, Simeon, moved by the Spirit, recognized that Jesus was the promised Messiah. Though he spoke lofty words about all that Jesus would accomplish as the Christ, he also warned Mary that a sword would pierce her soul too (Luke 2:35). As Mary stood on this site, that prophecy came true as she watched her firstborn Son being nailed to a cross.

Significance

This spot is significant as the biblical narrative reports those who were present at the crucifixion of the Lord. These events are so important in the life and faith of followers of Christ. To see the places where these early followers of Jesus stood while Jesus was dying on the cross for our sins brings the monumental events to life for the pilgrims who enter the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.

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