The Chapel of the Nailing
Where Jesus was Crucified
Location – Church of the Holy Sepulcher
Map Coordinates - 31.778460, 35.229556
Merged Gospels story - 279
The place where Jesus was crucified was at the summit of a small hill. Today portions of this hill remain concealed under two chapels within the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. To ascend the hill of Golgotha today you need to start at the entrance of the church, and climb some 800-year old stairs.
According to Luke 23:26, Jesus had help carrying the cross from a Jewish man known as Simon the Cyrene. The hill of Golgotha had a gradual ascent - one where Jesus could walk to the top, even in His weakened condition, and on which there was enough room for three crosses.
The cross was a torture device designed to kill people, not quickly, but over a period of several days. Victims died from suffocation or blood loss, or by being attacked by wild animals.
The Abraham Mosaic.
Here you can see Abraham attempting to sacrifice his only son, Isaac. The sacrificial ram with his head caught in the thorns is related to the mosaic above the altar, where the head of Jesus is surrounded by a crown of thorns. If you know the story of Genesis chapter 22, you know that this ram is about to die. Like the ram, Jesus is about to die. The ram with his head surrounded by thorns is a precursor, or a foreshadowing, of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ - the sacrifice that He made to pay the penalty for the sins of all mankind.
The Mourning Women Mosaic.
Merged Gospels story - 282
In this mosaic there are four women and one man outside the walls of Jerusalem on a hill. They are noticeably upset, and what they’re looking at is something in the next room – namely, the place where Jesus died on the cross. These women are the ones who watched Jesus on the cross from a distance. The man in this mosaic is the Apostle John, and he’s the same person whom you see just to the right of Jesus, at the altar of Calvary.
Jesus’ feet are nailed to the cross.
The Chapel of the Nailing is the eleventh station of the cross. One of the most amazing things about the crucifixion of Jesus is His reaction immediately after the Roman soldiers drove nails into His feet. At a moment like this we would expect any normal person to respond with screams of pain. Remarkably, the first words recorded from Jesus' mouth are "Father, forgive them". This radical declaration of forgiveness to his tormentors confirms just how much Jesus' natural mind was conformed to His Father's will. He forgave the people who, at that moment, were in the act of killing Him. Therefore, Jesus’ crucifixion is not just a historical event for us to look back on, but an example for us to follow.
The Crucifixion Mosaic.
Here you see Jesus after having been nailed to the cross. Mary is wearing black, indicating that she is in mourning. It seems that the other two people in this mosaic are entirely symbolic. The person bowing before Jesus represents the bride of Christ, the Church, adorned in a pure white robe. The man with the nails is not a soldier, because he is dressed as a commoner. And, as you can see, Jesus already has His hands and feet pierced with nails. Here’s how I interpret this - this man probably represents the opposite group - those who continually crucify Jesus. Hebrews 6:6 talks about those who fall away and crucify Christ all over again.
Our Lady of Sorrows.
The statue of our Lady of Sorrows.
When Jesus was an infant, there was a prophet named Simeon at the Jewish Temple, and according to Luke 2:35, he held Jesus, and he told Mary, “A sword will be piercing your own soul, that the thoughts of many hearts would be revealed”. The fulfillment of that prophecy occurred in this room. In this statue you can see a sword piercing Mary’s heart, just as Simeon prophesied 33 years earlier.
You’ve heard of “Our Lady of Sorrows”. More than any place in the world, this is where our lady felt her sorrow, as she watched the Baby whom she cradled, the Child whom she raised, and the Son she loved being tortured and killed for the crime of showing God’s love to the world.