Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Thursday 22 April |
Saint of the Day: Bl. Ndoc Suma
home iconNews
line break icon

Pilgrims turned away from Jerusalem’s Holy Sepulcher on reopening day

Holy Sepulcher

Berthold Werner | CC BY-SA 3.0

John Burger - published on 05/25/20

Officials had limited visitors to 50 people.

Christianity’s “Mother Church,” the basilica in Jerusalem marking the site of Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection, was set to reopen to the public Sunday, following two months of being shuttered due to the coronavirus pandemic. But people arriving at the entrance of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher were turned away.

“Religious officials said that reopening was postponed, but did not give a new date, hinting that there were difficulties in counting numbers in order to maintain social distancing,” the Times of Israel said, citing reports from Agence France-Presse. “One official told AFP that 50 clerics from various churches had came to pray, leaving no room for the public. Another official said it had been deemed preferable to wait for a further easing of Israeli restrictions so that 100 people could enter at a time.”

Two days earlier, the Catholic ecclesiastical official responsible for shrines in the Holy Land and two Orthodox patriarchs who share oversight for the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, said in a brief statement that starting on Sunday, “this most Holy Place will be accessible again to the faithful for visits and prayers.” They said that at the beginning stage of reopening, the number of those admitted to the church would be limited to 50 persons. “The Basilica will be accessible only to those who have no fever or symptoms of infection and are wearing suitable face coverings,” said the statement. “It will also be necessary to keep a minimal distance of 2 meters between each person and to avoid any act of devotion that might include physical contact such as touching and kissing the stones, icons, vestments and the personnel in the Basilica; as well as abide always by the given instructions.”

Franciscan Fr. Francesco Patton, Custos of the Holy Land; Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos III, and Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem Nourhan Manougian signed the letter, saying they “continue our prayers, asking for the end of this pandemic.”

On Sunday, religious officials said that the reopening was postponed, but did not give a new date, hinting that there were difficulties in counting numbers in order to maintain social distancing, the Times said.

With the number of COVID-19 cases in Israel and the West Bank hovering around 17,000 and infection rates slowing, Israel has begun to loosen lockdown measures, the Times said. Religious sites were authorized to reopen last Wednesday with limits set at 50 people entering each site at any one time.

Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...

Top 10
Cerith Gardiner
New study shows that these 2 childhood habits make you a happier ...
Philip Kosloski
5 Fascinating facts about Jesus in the Eucharist
Bret Thoman, OFS
What Padre Pio saw in the Spanish Flu of 1918
Bret Thoman, OFS
“Jesus, you take care of it”: Prayer of a priest Padr...
Philip Kosloski
Padre Pio’s favorite prayer of petition
Cerith Gardiner
The lasting lesson from the late Prince Philip
Eric Clapton, Luciano Pavarotti, East London Gospel Choir
J-P Mauro
Hear Clapton and Pavarotti sing a prayer to the “Holy Mothe...
See More
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.