Benedetto, seminarian in the Saint James Vicariate, prepared a model of the empty tomb that he placed at the foot of the altar (the table of the Lord) in the kehilla house in Jerusalem. He explains its significance.
In every church in the world, no matter what the confession of the members might be, at the heart of the chapel where prayer takes place, stands an altar. The altar is one of the strongest Christian elements as upon it the ultimate and eternal sacrifice of Christ is remembered at every celebration of the mass. Moreover, the altar symbolizes Jesus himself, priest, sacrifice and altar (on the cross, Jesus freely sacrificed himself as a sacrifice for us once and for all).
The altar also represents the Risen Christ – the empty tomb after the resurrection of the Son of God.
Due to these reasons, the Christian people venerate the altar with great reverence: the bishop anoints the altar with oil at the time of its consecration, the priests kiss the altar at the beginning and at the end of mass, the alter is incensed at certain moments during the mass, it is decorated with flowers according to the seasons of the year… The altar is not moved, nothing is place upon it, it is not used for any other purpose except for the celebration of the mass.
For Easter in 2017, I had the idea of making all these various meanings visible to the eye in creating an empty tomb, placed under the alter in the chapel of Saints Simeon and Anne, the place where the Jerusalem kehilla gathers, in the Saint James Vicariate.
The tomb is open, the stone has been rolled aside and the white shroud that was wrapped around the body of Jesus crucified is on the ground. Flowers grow from the stones: the victory of life over death.
May this symbol help us to deepen our understanding of the great mysteries of our faith and fill our heart with the joy of Easter!
(You are all invited to come and see the empty tomb in the chapel where it will be until Pentecost).