Prince William visits the Holy Sepulcher

Prince William of the British royal family visited the Holy Sepulcher this morning. He did so at the end of his trip to the Holy Land, which ended on June 28, after he spent five days in Jordan, Israel and Palestine. The representatives of the three Christian churches that own the Holy Sepulcher welcomed him before the shrine. Along with the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, Theophilus, and the Armenian Archbishop, Sevan Gharibian, Br. John Luke Gregory, a Franciscan of the Custody of the Holy Land from England, who now is the delegate of the Custos in Rhodes, was also present.

In front of photographers and a small group of curious onlookers, Prince William entered the Holy Sepulcher, for what was the first official visit of a British royal to the Church of the Resurrection. The Anglican bishop of Jerusalem, Suheil Salman Ibrahim Dawani, escorted the prince into the shrine.

During the visit, which lasted about an hour, the representatives of the Churches first led him in front of the Stone of Anointing, which the prince kissed at the invitation of his three escorts. Then the prince entered the shrine containing the tomb of Christ, where the Patriarch Theophilus had prepared three candles ready to be lit for the prince, the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate, and Queen Elizabeth. Br. John Luke suggested lighting two others for Prince Harry’s recent marriage to his wife, Megan Markle, and for his mother, Princess Diana. From there, everyone moved to the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea, where the Armenian archbishop gave some background [on the shrine].

After passing through the Greek Katholikon, the Prince’s delegation climbed to the top of the stairs leading to Calvary. “I explained to him that we process here every day and that we believe that behind the rock of Calvary, Adam was buried ,” said Br. John Luke Gregory. “The cross of Jesus placed on that rock makes this union between the New and Old testament visible, because Jesus is the new Adam.”

The Greek Orthodox had then prepared a light refreshment in their office, which is adjacent to the chapel of Adam, where a photo op took place. There Prince William also met the Secretary of the Custody, Br. David Grenier, and the other friars of the Holy Sepulcher.
“I have lived in this place for six years and I know him very well ,” said Fr. John Luke, “and for this reason, I explained to the Prince that we too have a monastery inside the Church of the Tomb, where we live in fraternal community.”

After thanking [everyone] for their hospitality, Prince William then exited [the shrine], escorted by a crowd of photographers.
“I told Prince William that I was at the Holy Sepulcher when in the past his grandfather, Prince Philip, and on another occasion, Prince Charles, came on private visit,” concluded Br. John Luke. “This is the first time there has been an official visit and it is a positive gesture in my opinion.”

Beatrice Guarrera

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