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Photos Of Jim & Cathy Barry’s Wedding Vow renewal inside the Holy Tomb + 350 photos of their 4 trips to Jerusalem

The photos you are bout to see are of the events leading up to & the actual renewal of Jim & Cathy Barry’s wedding vows at a Mass inside the holy tomb where the body of Our Lord Jesus Christ was laid after his crucifixion. Feel free to share this website & picture with everyone. If you want to contact me: phone: (727) 859-5847, email:

As some of you already know, Cathy & I had been to Jerusalem in 2012. The 350+ pictures of that trip are posted on this page below the photos of our vow renewal in 2015. If you have not seen them, after viewing these pictures I suggest that you continue to scroll down to view them also. Our 50th wedding anniversary would occur on August 28, 2015 and knew that we would renew our wedding vows then. But, my mind is always working, I came up with the idea to renew them at the altar on Calvary, yes the very spot where our Lord Jesus was crucified. Together with three other religions, the Catholics (the Franciscan Priests) co-control the holiest sites in the world – the altar on Calvary & the Holy Tomb where Christ’s body was buried. By mutual agreement, the Franciscans have control of Calvary & the tomb from 4am to 8 am each morning. Mass is celebrated every half hour at Calvary & inside the tomb during those hours. After that time, the public is let into the church & the atmosphere changes from holy to chaos. Thousands of people enter the church pushing, shoving, loud talking, yelling, taking pictures – totally unacceptable behavior for the holiest site in Christianity. Anyway, I got the idea to renew our vows after one of the Masses said each morning (between 4am-8am) at the altar on Calvary. I began emailing the Franciscans in Jerusalem & after the 3rd email explaining to them what I wanted to do, I received the following reply from Fr. Andreas Fritch:


Christian Information Center <>


Sent:  Jan 22,

2015 12:54:52 PM




Attachments :

Thank you for your request. I

booked a Mass for you in the Holy Tomb on March 7 at 7:15 am. If you don’t have

another priest I can gladly celebrate with you the Mass and wedding renewal.


Kind regards

Fr. Andreas

Fr. Andreas Fritsch, FSO

Christian Information Center

Jaffa Gate – Old City of


Tel. +972 (0)2 6272692

Fax. +972 (0)2 6286417



What? Inside the Holy Tomb where they laid Our Lord’s body? I picked myself off the floor & quickly replied, thanking him & asking if he would celebrate the Mass for us. This was more than I had hoped for – a Mass at which to renew our wedding vows but not at Calvary, but inside the tomb where they buried the crucified body of Christ. On our 2012 Jerusalem trip we were fortunate enough to have attended Mass inside this tomb on 3 occasions. I must confess, you will never have a more humbling experience than that. So, with our plane tickets purchased, our accommodations in the Maronite Convent confirmed and now the Mass inside the Holy Tomb was arranged, we were set to go. We flew from Tampa to JFK to catch the 9 1/2 hour El Al direct flight to Tel Aviv. I always fly El Al when flying to Israel, it’s the safest airline in the world. The Jews have no problem with profiling you. They do just that while you wait online to check in at the airport. If they don’t like what they see or the answers you give, they pull you out of line to interrogate you further. After arriving in Tel Aviv, we had to take shared van to Jerusalem. This “Neshir Sherut” van is a bargain – $16pp from the Tel Aviv airport to Jerusalem, a 45 minute ride. As we pulled our luggage thru the Jaffa gate into the walled city of old Jerusalem, I saw the Franciscan Information Center & decided to see if I

could touch base with Fr Fritch. When we entered, there he was sitting at the desk. He was so glad to meet us. I explained to him that since the Mass would take place on Saturday, Shabatt in Jerusalem, I was unable to get anyone to take photos of this once in a lifetime event. He told me that he knew of a nun arriving in Jerusalem in a few days & he would see if she would meet us early on Saturday to take the photos. We agreed to meet the following Friday, the day before the scheduled Mass, to work out the details & to meet this nun, Sr Karen. Below are a few photos of that meeting showing Fr Fritch, Sister Karen. Cathy & I. Oh, guess where Sister Karen flew to Jerusalem from? 14th Street between First Ave. & Ave A in Manhattan !!!!!

Here is Fr. Andreau Fritch who reserved the time inside the Holy Tomb & who agreed to say the mass for us

Here Fr. Fritch introduces us to Sister Ann who agreed to come take pictures of the vow renewal Mass. I had to be sure that she was familiar with my camera.

Here the bride, Cathy, brushes her hair the morning of the Mass

The bride applies her lipstick before the big event

This is the courtyard in front of the entrance to the Church Of The Holy Sepulcher, the holiest church in Christianity. It is not a church in the traditional meaning of the word with an altar, pews etc. It is simply a huge building built to contain Calvary & the tomb where Christ was buried. In the time of Christ, Calvary & the tomb (the tomb owned by Joseph Of Arimethia) was located just outside the walls of Jerusalem. After king Herod constructed new walls to enlarge the city, this site became located inside the walls of Jerusalem. The entrance to the church is made through that open door in the left of this photo. The keys to this church have been in the possession of two Muslim families since the 10th century. They were given control over this church by Sulliman The Magnificent because the various Christian religions were in constant battle over control of this most holiest of sites. To this day, these two Muslim families open & close the church each day & night.,

Here is the courtyard to the “Church Of The Holy Sepulcher. It is not a “Church” in the traditional sense of the word with an altar & pews. But it is a huge block building built over Calvary, the rock of cleansing & the Holy Tomb where Christ was buried. This is the holiest place on the planet. It is in this building where we will renew our vows

These are the 16′ high doors to the church of the Holy Sepulcher. For the last 1,000 years, the keys have been held by two Moslem Families who lock the church at 10pm each night & open it 4am

This is member of the Moslem Family

The year was 1187 and Jerusalem was in the midst of one of its most violent feuds: Christians vs. Christians. These disputes between the Armenian, Roman Catholic, and Greek Orthodox Christian denominations angered the Muslim ruler of Jerusalem, the infamous Saladin. To ease the tensions that had boiled to violent conflicts, plaguing the streets of Jerusalem, Saladin decided to hand the keys to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre to the Sunni Muslim Joudeh family. To this day, this family possesses the only key that opens the enormous wooden doors that have protected the holy shrine for centuries. The current key-holder, Adeeb Joudeh, respects the Christian religion, yet refuses to pray in this holy Christian pilgrimage site. Despite his Muslim affiliation, he remains reverent towards the Christian religions. Joudeh enjoys his job and is interested in perpetuating his family legacy, carefully documented by previous generations. This artifact etched in golden ink proudly decorates his humble home. Joudeh’s history is a testament to the fact that despite many religious differences, Christians and Muslims are able to coexist in a society, regardless of the discrimination and prejudice that affect both communities.

As soon as you pass through the doors, the first thing which meets your eyes is this piece of rose marble on the floor. It covers the “Stone Of Unction” which was the stone on which the crucified body of Christ was placed after it was removed from the cross. Joseph Of Arimethia, a member of the Sanhedren (Elders of the temple) but a secret follower of Jesus, went to Pilate to petition for his body. Since it was late in the day (the day before the Passover) he did not want Jesus body to remain on the cross over the Passover. Pilate gave him permission to remove it. Sundown was fast approaching, so the hurriedly removed Jesus body from the cross & placed it on this rock to quickly wash, wrap it & prepare it for burial. After preparation, they carried His body about 100′ to the left & placed it in a new tomb belonging to Joseph Of Arimethia & sealed it with a large rock. Early on, pilgrims were chipping off pieces of the rock of the tomb, so it had to be covered to protect it. So now Calvary. the Stone Of Unction & the tomb are covered with in marble for protection.

This is Calvary. Disappointed? Artists & movie makers portray the hill of Calvary as they want. Calvary was actually not a hill, but an outcropping of rock about 16′ high which stood just outside the gates of Jerusalem. The Romans conducted all of the executions atop this rock so that the Jews would see it & know the consequences of disobedience to Rome. Calvary also had to be covered in marble to prevent souvenir seekers from taking pieces of it. To get to the top of Calvary, you must climb the very steep stairway over in the right corner of this photo. When I say steep, I mean steep. Each step is about 12″ high.

When you arrive at the top of the stairs, this is what you see. You are standing in a vaulted room atop the rock of Calvary about 50′ long by 30′ wide. There are 3 altars ahead of you: the one on the extreme right is the Roman Catholic altar on the very spot where Jesus was stripped & nailed to the cross. Notice the large mosaic of the behind the altar which tells what happened on this very spot. The next smaller altar to the left is Roman Catholic altar dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary & the sorrows she endured seeing her son crucified. The third altar to the left, which you can only see part of, is the Greek Orthodox altar of the Crucifixion. It sits atop the exposed rock of Calvary Part of which you see encased in glass. IN anothe photo, you will be able to see the grooves in the rock where the 3 crosses were inserted.

At he far end of the vaulted hall is : on the right is the Franciscan altar of the Crucifixion which stands on the very spot where Jesus was stripped & nailed to the cross. Next: to the left is a small altar devoted to Mary, the Mother Of Sorrows. Next to the left you can see, encased in glass, is part of the rock of Calvary where you can see one of the three grooves into which the crosses were inserted. In other photos I will show you the grooves where both thieves crosses were inserted.

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Moving to the left, this is the Greek Orthodox altar on Calvary. The back wall panels are made of gold & silver. The statue on the left is the Blessed Virgin Mary. The one on the right is St John, the Apostle whom Jesus loved. Beneath that small altar in the center of the picture is the hole where Jesus’ cross was inserted into the rock of Calvary. That gold, triangular object on top of the altar contains pieces of the true cross on which Jesus was crucified. The Catholic priests do not conduct any services on the Greek Orthodox Church controls this altar. The Roman Catholic Church ( the Franciscans Priests) do not conduct any services on this altar & neither do the Greek priests conduct any services on the Catholic altars. The lady you see beneath the altar is kissing the spot where Jesus’ cross was stuck into the rock of Calvary. That is how it is done – on your knees.

This is a very good picture of the Greek Altar over the rock of Calvary. the person on his knees is venerating the very hole where Jesus cross was inserted into the rock. On both sides of this altar, under the glass, are the other areas of the rock of Calvary where the other two crosses were inserted. The media & movies have portrayed Calvary as a gently sloping hill covered with grass. Not so. It was a rock outcropping about 16′ high which was located outside the walls of the city of Jerusalem. The Romans selected this site to crucify so that the Jews could see what happens when you disobey. That person on his knees is venerating the hole where Jesus’ cross was inserted. On his knees – rightfully so – where the cross of our salvation was inserted.

This is a closeup of the right side of the rock where the cross of the “Good Thief” was inserted. It appears that someone has put flowers on the side of Calvary where the “Good Thief’s cross was inserted into the rock.

This 2′ diameter plate is located on the floor beneath the center of Greek Orthodox altar. If you look into that glass in the center, you can see the very hole into which the cross of Jesus was placed. In order to see it & reverence it, you must get on your knees & crawl beneath the altar.

Here you see my wife Cathy on her knees venerating the hole where the cross of Jesus was inserted into the roc of Calvary. On the left & right you see, encase in glass, the other rocks where the crosses of the thieves were inserted.

So you descend the stairs from Calvary & walk 75′ down this corridor, past the “Stone Of Unction” (lower right in this picture), turning right to arrive at the tomb where Jesus was buried & where our Mass & vow renewal will take place. You turn right at the end of the corridor and you see this miniature cathedral like structure which contains the holy tomb. The tomb was enclosed in this structure called the “Edicule” during the 7th or 8th century to protect this holy place. Pilgrims from all around the world were chipping off pieces of this holy tomb as keepsakes, scratching their names & words into the rock of the tomb. To protect the tomb, it was encased in red marble both inside & outside. I have posted a few pictures below (front, side & other side) of this mini cathedral which contains the tomb . Notice the steel girders which are necessary to reinforce the structure, since it is falling apart. Since control of this holy site has been fought over for more than 1400 years, by six religions: The Roman Catholics (Franciscans), The Greek Orthodox, and the Armenian Apostolic with the Greek Orthodox having the lions share of control. The Coptic Orthodox, the Ethiopian Orthodox & the Syriac Orthodox acquired lesser responsibilities in the late 19th century. They all have agreed to a “Status Quo” which means that nothing changes unless they all agree. Since they never all agree, nothing ever gets done. This church & the tomb is falling apart, the holy tomb had to be reinforced with steel to keep it from crumbling. In addition, in this “Status Quo” they have divided the hours from 10 pm to 8 am each night during which each religion has exclusive use of the tomb & Calvary to conduct their religious rituals.

This structure is called “The Edicule” & was built more than 1,400 years ago, to enclose & protect the sacred tomb. Pilgrims were chipping off pieces as keepsakes & writing prayers & their names on the wall. The tomb is actually inside this structure.

This is a side view of the tomb which clearly shows the steel beams which were needed to reinforce the structure to keep it from falling down. the five religions which co-control this holy site, must agree to fix it. They rarely agree on anything, so nothing happens.

A view of the other side showing similar steel reinforcing beams

When you first pass through those two outside doors, you are actually not in the tomb yet, but in a circular ante-chamber which was not part of the original tomb. The tomb is through that low, narrow opening ahead of you. About 50+ oil burning lamps hang from the ceiling testifying to the sanctity of this place. In this antechamber the Resurrection took place. This is the spot where the angels rolled back the stone and where Jesus emerged from the tomb. In the center of this ante-chamber stands a small pedestal like altar which contains a piece of the rock which originally sealed the tomb.

The square piece of rock in the center of this small altar is part of the stone which originally sealed Christ’s tomb – it is called “The Angel’s Stone” since it was this

stone which the angels rolled back when Jesus resurrected.

This picture from our 2012 trip to Jerusalem, shows how the priest must stoop down to enter the tomb from the ante-chamber. Notice the ornately sculpted marble which decorates the walls of the ante-chamber. See that black wire entering the tomb? That powers the only electric light bulb inside the tomb – this is primitive

You are now looking at what 99.9999% of the people in the world will never see. This is what the inside of the tomb looks like when not set up for Mass. The shelf on the right, barely 6′ long, is where Jesus body was placed. The entire inside of the tomb was covered with marble in the 7th or 8th century to prevent pilgrims from chipping off pieces for keepsakes or writing their names on the walls. That picture of the Blessed Virgin is actually a trap door, which when opened, reveals the actual

inside wall of the tomb. The tomb can accommodate a maximum of 6 people, standing side by side – it is very small. About 18″ above the shelf you can see a ledge with candles on it. On this ledge is placed a board which is covered with fine linens, candles etc & the Mass is said upon this board.

This is another picture of a woman lighting a candle inside the holy tomb around 6am. Jesus body was laid beneath that shelf where the candles are standing. Actually, a piece of protective marble was placed on top of the actual shelf to protect it from pilgrims chipping off pieces to take home. At 8 am the tomb is opened to the public, then all chaos begins. hundreds, thousands of people pushing, shoving. The sanctity of this most holy of places is thrown to the wind.

Here the tomb has been prepared for Mass. Fr. Fritch begins the Mass. Just after the Gospel was read, he renewed our vows. AS I said, the Franciscans have control of the Holy Tomb from 4am to 8am. During this time, about 25 priests will say Mass both inside the tomb & on Calvary. Our Mass was scheduled for 7am. Immediately after the Mass, all of the candles, flowers etc had to be removed since at 8am the Greeks take control of the tomb for public viewing.

This is how the altar appeared just as Fr. Fritch began Mass. The back wall above the altar is decorated with three beautiful gold & silver panels depicting Jesus

crucifixion, being placed in this tomb & His resurrection. This was a MOST HUMBLING experience. Four people (Fr Fritch, Cathy, myself & Sr. Karen )

squeezed inside the very tomb where the Lord was buried, participating in a Mass to renew our wedding vows. I knew that this would be a once in a lifetime experience, so I wanted to have it photographed so we could savor the memories forever.

Here we are in this most sacred place as Fr Fritch reads the ritual of the vow renewal. Next, we would both be required to read the “Affirmation Of Vows”. Notice how small the tomb is. It can only accommodate 6 people at one time. This was a most intimate experience. The Greek words inscribed on the wall attest to the fact that Jesus body was buried in this tomb. The entire inside of the tomb is clad in marble to protect it. That picture of the Virgin Mary behind me is actually a trap door which when opened reveals the inside walls of the actual tomb.

Here I am reading my part of the ceremony. I said “I, James, affirm the vow I made to you Catherine, 50 years ago, to take you as my wife, to love and honor you, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer…………………… At this point I became so overwhelmed with emotion, with tears streaming down my cheeks, that I was

unable to speak !!!!!!! I was unable to finish my part of the vow. Big, Bad Jim Barry was unable to speak. Would you believe that?

The nun took a video of Cathy & I reading our vows. I was unable to upload that video from “Youtube” onto this website. If you would like to see that video, go onto Youtube and search for the following: “wedding 026 copy”

Here I am holding the book as Cathy reads her vow, & Fr Fritch watches. As the ceremony proceeded, Sr Karen was taking still photos. She switched my camera to the “Video” mode & took a video of the actual reading of the vows. 

After the renewal of vows, Fr. Fritch continues with the Mass. Here he thanks God for the bread which he now offers and which will become the bread of life, the real body of Christ.

After having consecrated the bread and wine into the sacred body and blood of Christ, he distributes communion first to me, then to Cathy

Then he gives Holy Communion to Cathy. The next picture is a video of the final blessing. Sr Karen attempted to take it from a different perspective, so she turned the camera sideways. Eventually, she righted the camera. See the video.

Prior to the beginning of the Mass, I placed a bunch of rosaries & crucifixes I had purchased on the very stone where Jesus body was placed. After the Mass, I asked Fr Fritch to bless them. His reply “By placing them on that stone, they have already been blessed”. I gave them to all of our friends.

After the Mass, we quickly posed for a photo. We had to be out of there & the Mass paraphernalia removed since, In 10 minutes, the Greek Orthodox priests would take control of the tomb at 8 am. to allow the pubic into the tomb. Then all hell breaks loose – 100’s of people online, pushing& shoving. All sanctity is lost.

One last photo before we had to get out. When I look at these pictures, I realize how blessed Cathy & I are – for 50 years of marriage, our health, and for the opportunity to have been able to renew our vows in this most sacred place. Sr Karen is the unsung hero of this entire event – she took all of the pictures & there was not one photo of her!!!

Fr Fritch poses for a photo as he removes his vestments after Mass. After the Mass, Father had things tom do. We returned to the convent to have breakfast.

After their vow renewal Mass, Jim & Cathy enjoy breakfast

The girls who worked in the kitchen, cleaned the rooms etc. pose with the “Bride & Groom” . Only one of them spoke English. No one else, including the two nuns who ran the convent spoke English.

The two nuns who were in charge of the “Maronite Convent/Guesthouse” where we stayed. They did not speak a word or English. they spoke French & Lebanese. By using sign language & gestures, we were able to communicate – that plus one of the girls in the kitchen could speak English.

Cathy & I wanted to have a celebration dinner. But since our wedding vow renewal was on a Saturday, that was not possible since Saturday is Shabatt, the Jewish Sabath. On Shabatt in Jerusalem nothing is open, the buses & light rail don’t run. When I tell you that the entire city is shut down, it is shut down. So we scheduled it for Sunday and asked our friends, Harry & Marlene Ollenberg, who formerly lived in our community in Pennsylvania & now live in Jerusalem, to pick out a nice restaurant for our celebration dinner. That’s Harry & Marlene in the rear of this photo as we raise our glasses for a toast. Fr Fritch also joined us but Sister Karen, who got up at 6am to take all of the photos for me, was unable to make the dinner.

The End


In a relatively unknown church in Rome called the THE CHURCH OF SANTA CROCE IN JERUSALEMME IN ROME, there is a chapel which contains relics of the crucifixion of our Lord, Jesus Christ, namely the remaining piece of His Cross, the “Titilus” – the wooden sign which identified Him as “Jesus Of Nazareth, King Of The Jews”, one of the 3 nails used to crucify Him, and two thorns (dipped in gold) which were on the crown which He wore to his crucifixion on Calvary. 

This is the Church Of The Holy Cross in Rome or as it is officially named  Santa Croce in Gerusalemme. In a chapel inside this church is contained the relics of the passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ – His Cross, the sign which was put on His Cross, one of  the nails used to crucify Him, & thorns from his crown. In order to fully appreciate the pictures you are about to see, you must first understand the history of how they were discovered & brought to Rome and equally important, by whom. In the 3rd century, Constantine was the  pagan emperor of Rome and, although it was widely practiced in secret, the practice of Christianity was outlawed. Constantine’s mother, Helena was a devout Christian who was attempting to convert her son to the faith. Around the year 324 AD, she succeeded in converting him to Christianity & he issued proclamation of religious tolerance, allowing for the practice of Rome. Now with the power & money of the Roman Empire, Helena travelled to Jerusalem to identify the holy sites of Jesus life & passion. Constantine ordered churches to be built over the cave in Bethlehem where Jesus was born, over Calvary & the tomb where He was buried. The location of these sights were known to the faithful who revered them. Around the year 77 AD, the Roman Emperor Hadrian had tons of earth dumped over Calvary & the tomb & had a temple to some pagan goddess erected over the site. When Helena & Constantine arrived in 325-6?, they ordered all of that earth removed to expose the rock of Calvary, and the tomb where he was buried. In a cistern about 75 yards from Calvary, they located 3 crosses, 3 nails, the remains of a crown of thorns and the wooden sign which read “Jesus the Nazorean, king of the Jews”. Not knowing which of the three crosses was Jesus’ cross, they touched all 3 crosses to a paralyzed woman. When one of the 3 crosses was touched to her, she immediately rose &  began to walk. Now they knew which was Jesus cross. Helena & Constantine did a great deal of good in building churches over these holy places. But she literally “Raped” the Holy Land of many artifacts connected to the Passion of Christ. From Jerusalem, she took back to Rome the upright part of Jesus cross, the 3 nails with which He was crucified (which were found in the well), The wooden sign which read  “Jesus the Nazorean, king of the Jews”, the remains of his crown of thorns, 36 marble steps up which Jesus walked to Pilate’s Praetoreum to by judged. She had dirt from the area of Golgotha put into the belly of her ships for ballast. When she returned to Rome, she had that soil taken from  the belly of the ships & spread on the floor of her private chapel along with the cross, nails, sign (Titilus), and 2 of the thorns. Her palace containing this “Capella Della Relique” eventually became the Santa Croce in Gerusalemme     where these relics of Jesus passion are on display.  I was able to take these pictures.

This is the view which you see as you first enter the chapel.

On the left of this case, leaning against the wall, almost out of view, is the remains of the upright portion of the cross on which Jesus was crucified. It looks like a piece of warped wood standing against the wall.

In this golden vessel is the “Titilus” – the wooden sign which was nailed to Jesus’ cross identifying Him as “Jesus The Nazorean, King Of The Jews. It was also found in the cistern with the piece of the cross, 3 of the nails & thorns.

Leaning against the wall on the left side of the case is the remaining piece of  the upright part of Jesus’ cross. When the 3 crosses were found in the well, the sign was not attached to any of the crosses. Therefore, St Helena did not know which cross was the one on which Jesus was crucified. To identify which was Jesus’ cross, the three crosses were touched to a paralyzed woman. The woman was miraculously cured after touching one of the crosses to her. After returning to Rome with all of the relics of Jesus’ crucifixion, Helena gave small pieces of the cross to the Pope & there is one piece in the large gold cross in this glass panel. She kept the major piece of the cross intact to remain in her private chapel.

This is a closeup of the reliquaries : L to right: This vessel contains one of the 3 nails used to crucify Jesus. The middle one contains 2 thorns, dipped in gold, taken from the crown of thorns which Jesus wore to His crucifixion. Sorry, I don’t know what is in the third one? Of the 3 nails which were found in the well with the cross & the Titilus, Helena gave two to her son, the Emperor Constantine,  one of which he had mounted in his crown & the other he had mounted on his chariot.


This is another picture of the entire case. You get a better view  of the cross standing against the left wall of the case. There is another small piece of the cross mounted in the large gold  cross in the middle shelf.

Right :

A closeup of ; on the left, the reliquary which contains one of the 3 nails use to crucify Jesus & on the right the “Titilus” – the wooden sign identifying Jesus as “Jesus The Nazorean, King Of The Jews”.


A closeup of the “Titilus” the wooden sign identifying Jesus as “Jesus The Nazorean, King Of The Jews”.  If you are ever in Rome, you MUST visit this church to see these most precious relics.

The End


Here you see steel girders supporting the Edicule. It was in danger of collapse & needed major reconstruction. Construction was agreed to by the Greek Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Armenian & Coptics – the 4 Major faiths who together control this holy site. It took one year and the 3.5 million dollar cost was paid for by The World Monuments Fund, King Abdullah of Jordan, the Roman Catholic Church, The Greek Orthodox Church, The Armenian Church.

This is a birds eye view of the Edicule nearing completion of the renovation of the outside. After the steel supporting girders were removed, each of the stones were removed, one by one & cleaned. Then titanium rods were drilled through each one to the next one giving them lateral strength. as the outside work was proceeding, the more important wrk was progressing on the inside of the tomb – That of removing the stone covering the slab on which Jesus Body has been laid.

These pictures were taken by National Geographic which was given exclusive rights to photograph this operation. This is a birds eye view of the workmen preparing to remove the slab covering the actual stone on which Jesus body was placed. This covering slab was placed on top of the actual tomb shelf to protect it from pilgrims chipping off pieces as keepsakes. So they thought !!! When they removed the covering slab, they found another slab with a cross on it. When they removed this slab with the cross, they found the actual shelf on which Christ’s body was placed.

The most venerated site in the Christian world, the tomb today consists of a limestone shelf or burial bed that was hewn from the wall of a cave. Since at least 1555, and most likely centuries earlier, the burial bed has been covered in marble cladding, allegedly to prevent eager pilgrims from removing bits of the original rock as souvenirs. When the marble cladding was first removed on the night of October 26, an initial inspection by the conservation team from the National Technical University of Athens showed only a layer of fill material underneath. However, as researchers continued their nonstop work over the course of 60 hours, another marble slab with a cross carved into its surface was exposed. By the night of October 28, just hours before the tomb was to be resealed, the original limestone burial bed was revealed intact.

This view is looking into the tomb from the ante chamber. The workers are not present but you can see all of the boards & rigging necessary for their work. In the pictures below, you can see when the workers removed the first slab, they found another slab below it with a cross on it. It is believed that this second slab, with the cross, was put on top of the burial shelf (on which Jesus body was placed) by the Crusaders. Again, to protect the actual burial shelf from pilgrims

archaeologist brushing off the original slab.

Crusade-era slab on top of the original stone.

Left: A restorer removes debris beneath a broken marble slab to expose the original rock surface of the burial shelf where the body of Jesus was laid .

Right: Inscribed with a Christian cross, this broken marble slab may date to the Crusades.


“This is the Holy Rock that has been revered for centuries, but only now can actually be seen,” said Chief Scientific Supervisor Professor Antonia Moropoulou, who is directing the conservation and restoration of the Edicule.

The End

 Ever since I was a kid, I always wanted to visit the holy land. Oh I had seen pictures on the TV of Manger Square at Christmas time, but I wanted to actually go there to visit the places where Jesus was born, preached his ministry, was crucified & died. So, since we’re not getting younger, I decided that Cathy & I would take a trip there. I am not one for taking off the shelf package tours which include airfare, hotels, guided tours etc.. For the most part they are overpriced and never allow you enough time to visit the various places because they try to visit too many places in too short an amount of time. There would be no “ OK take your pictures, but be back on the bus in 20 minutes” for me. This trip would be a once in a lifetime trip & I was not going to be rushed. If I wanted to spend all day in the Church of The Nativity in Bethlehem, then we would do just that! I wanted to inhale & savour the sights & sounds of the holy places. And if we wanted to go back for a second look, we would. Using the computer & the internet, I planned the entire trip myself. No travel agent, just me & the internet. I spent three months researching the various places we would visit, the various modes of transportation we would use once there, arranged for our lodging with the convent/guest house where we would eventually stay, purchased the airline tickets, even found out online about a FREE three hour walking tour of the old city of Jerusalem & got the tickets for that.. The more I researched, the more I learned about what there was to see & do. For instance, I learned that the various Jerusalem tour companies sell bus tours to Bethlehem to visit the Church of the Nativity, where Christ was born. They charge $84 per person for this 1/2 hours bus ride. From my research on the net & reading the blogs of people who have been there, I learned that you can take the Arab Bus at the Arab Bus station, just outside the Damascus Gate, from Jerusalem to Bethlehem for 7 sheckels each way ($1.75 US). $3.50 per person round trip is a hell of a lot cheaper than $84 per person. There is no guide needed for this trip – there is Manger Square, across the street is the Church of the nativity & beneath the main altar, you go down the steps to the cave where Christ was born (sorry to burst your bubble but Our Lord was born in a cave not a stable). I learned the same thing about visiting Masada. The Egged Bus Co. which provides the municipal buses in Tel Aviv & Jerusalem as well as the inter-city buses, also sells guided bus tours to all of the points of interest. Egged’s guided bus trip to Masada is $92 US per person. By going to Jerusalem’s Central Bus Station & taking Egged’s scheduled inter-city but from Jerusalem to Masada, it will cost you $20 US per person round trip. Add to that the $24 per person charge to enter the Masada National Park, you can do the whole thing, on your own, for $84 US for both of us as compared to $184 for both of us. That’s a no brainer.   So, in the following narrated pictures, you will see what we saw & read about the unbelievable experiences we had such as: 1) we attended Mass at the altar on Calvary every morning & twice I got the opportunity to act as altar boy at that Mass 2) Cathy & I attended Mass right inside the tomb, touching the very slab of rock upon which they laid the body of Our Lord Jesus Christ – not once but on three different days. I warn you that there are many, many pictures & it will take some time to look at them. However I do not think that you will be disappointed.

Enjoy the pictures & feel free to share them with everyone. Jim & Cathy Barry


Right in the middle of this sprawling modern city of malls, universities, theaters, buses & trams lies this 4,000 year old walled city of ancient Jerusalem. This walled city of Jerusalem which is sacred to Christians, Jews & Muslims alike, contains the Western Wall which is sacred to Jews around the world, The Church Of the Holy Sepulcher, sacred to all Christians, which contains Calvary & the tomb where Jesus was crucified & buried and the Dome Of The Rock containing the very Rock where Mohamed rose to heaven. Jerusalem has been destroyed twice, besieged 23 times, attacked 52 times, and captured and recaptured 44 times. As late as 1967, it was the scene of a war between Israel & Jordan which lasted 6 days & resulted in the capture & annexation of East Jerusalem & the walled city of ancient Jerusalem itself.

Here you see the Walled City Of Jerusalem and specifically the Damascus Gate, the most photographed of the 16 gates. The Damascus Gate was so called because the road outside this gate led to Damascus. The “Old City” is only 1/3 of a mile square and is completely surrounded by a wall such The wall has 16 gates which grant access into the Old city. The old city of Jerusalem, is the holiest site for Judaism, Christianity & Islam.

Here Cathy watches as a man is delivering something atop his head through the Damascus gate

Here you see a picture of another side of the walled city of Jerusalem showing a “Mineret” – the tower used to call the Muslims to prayer 5 times a day. Although the ancient city was Hebrew, today it is a multi cultural / religious city divided into 4 distinct quarters: Jewish, Muslim, Christian and Armenian.    This wall encircles the entire Old City which is 1/3 mile square. In the time of Jesus It was much smaller

this is one of Jerusalem’s 16 gates called the “Dung Gate”. It was so named in ancient times, because outside this gate was piled all of the animal waste (horse, camel, donkey etc.) which accumulated on the streets of the city.

Here is an outside view of the Jaffa Gate so called because in ancient times, the road outside this gate led directly to the city of Jaffa which is present day Tel Aviv. When you enter all of Jerusalem’s gates, you must enter the gate, then you turn left, then right. The gates were constructed in this manner so that invading horseman could not directly enter the city through the gates. They would have to first turn left, then right. This would give soldiers time to kill them with spears or bow & arrows.

This is the view upon entering Jerusalem through the Jaffa Gate. Originally, there was no cut in the wall to drive a car into the city through the wall next to the Jaffa gate. The breach in the wall was created in 1898 by the Ottoman authorities in order to allow German emperor Wilhelm II to enter the city triumphally. The breach and the ramp leading up to it now allow cars to access the Old City from the west. The Maronite Convent/Guesthouse which we stayed in was located just at the end of the street, turn right.

Pass through the gates & it’s like going through a time warp! The narrow streets of Jerusalem (only 12′ wide) are a mixed bazar of all types of shops selling everything from food to hair cuts to momentos to guest houses, mixed in between the holiest of places.

This is the view immediately upon passing through the Damascus Gate. Notice the steps on the left side of the narrow street & the cobblestone incline on the other. The cobblestone incline allows for the very narrow garbage trucks to traverse the narrow streets of Jerusalem. The bread man makes his head top delivery as merchants sell all types ow wares.

Here is a delivery truck traversing the narrow streets of Jerusalem. Notice how narrow these tucks must be to make it thru the streets. The garbage trucks are equally as wide.

As you can see, Jerusalem s home to all ethnic groups – Jews, Arabs, Muslims, Indians, Chinese & yes beggars.

  1. The Old City even has it’s “Hard Rock Cafe” – I mean Holy Rock Cafe

One year we were there in Early January, One of the restaurants inside the walled city was decorated for Christmas. Remember , Jerusalem is divided into 4 quarters: the Jewish quarter, the Muslim Quarter, the Christian Quarter & the Armenian Quarter. Not every business is Christian, but this one was.

We have been to Jerusalem 4 times, We always stay in a convent inside the walled city because by doing so, we are within walking distance of all of the holy places inside the city. We would attend Mass each morning before leaving on our days sightseeing trips. One year we stayed at this convent named “Ecce Homo” which means “Behold the man” which were the words spoken by Pontius Pilate as he offered to free Jesus or Barrabas. This convent, “Ecce Homo”, is located on the Via Dolorosa literally within 100′ of the place where those words were spoken. In the basement of this convent are original streets of the Praetorium.

Here Cathy uses the door knock to gain entrance to the convent. The doors are kept locked all of the time, making it a very safe place to stay. After visually recognizid you, you were buzzed in.

Yes, even pizza is sold inside this ancient city. And it’s quite good.

Here Cathy enjoys a slice of Jacob’s pizza.

Every street you walk on has vendors selling everything from hats to lunch to as you see here – fresh produce

When you enter through any one of the 16 gates into the walled city, it’s like walking through a time warp into a city of 2,000 years ago. Here a vendor is selling all types of breads

The day before the Sabath is always a very busy day as women buy everything for the Sabath meal. You can see the Muslim women wearing the mandatory traditional head covering. This is truly a multi ethnic, multi religious city

Take a look at what is available in this shop. All types of spices, incensors, mortars & pestals. You name it.

In the midst of all of these shops and human traffic lie the holiest places to the three major faiths Christianity, Judaism & Muslim. You can see the street sign above the Israeli soldiers head – “The Via Dolorosa”. That’s the very street down which Jesus carried His cross on the way to Calvary. The presence of Israeli soldiers on almost every corner, 24 hours a day. makes the walled city of Jerusalem, the safest city in the world.

Here’s three soldiers on duty at this corner of the “Via Dolorossa”. The men must serve three years & the women serve two years in the Israeli Army. That’s not fair!

Two men share a friendly “Hit” on the water pipe. This man sells shalls

This is the scene just inside the Damascus Gate. You name it, it’s for sale. notice the pavement. one side is an inclined plane, the other is steps. All streets have an inclined plane side to allow the garbage & delivery trucks to access the stores. There is a pitch on all streets. this to allow drainage.

Here is a daytime shot of one of the many Minarets which call the Muslim faithful to prayer 5 times each day. The walled city of Old Jerusalem is divided into 4 quarters: reflecting it’s religious & cultural makeup: Jewish, Muslim, Christian & Armenian quarters.

Here is a nighttime photo of another minaret. I was awakened at 4am every morning, by the “Omar” chanting the call to the faithful to prayer

Here Cathy poses next to a marker signifying the spot, on the Via Dolorosa, where Jesus’ face was wiped by Veronica on his way to Calvary. This marker is located insignificantly amongst coffee shops, bakeries & trinket shops.

Another street shot. notice all of the streets are on an incline.. I didn’t see one level street in the entire walled city of Jerusalem.

Up this ramp was the location of the Praetorium where Jesus was condemned by Pilate to death. It is now a private school. This is where people congregate on Fridays to begin the “Way Of The Cross” with the Franciscans.

A picture of the Jerusalem streets at 6am in the morning as were walked to the church Of The Holy Sepulcher for Mass.

Here’s a picture of the Western wall. Atop this wall is the site of the first & second Jewish temples. The top is now controlled by the Muslims & is the site of the Dome Of The Rock. The Jews revere this wall & pray & stick pieces of paper into it’s cracks. Bar Nitzvahs are conducted here & the woman must remain separate from the men at the wall.

Orthodox Jewish rules mandate that men & women must remain separated even in prayer

Jere you see the men & women separated by a makeshift wall as they approach the Western Wall to pray

Another picture showing the separation of the sexes at the wall. That steel structure you see is the bridge entrance to the top of the wall to see the dome of the rock. Strange – this entire mountain was constructed by King Herod for the Jewish Temple & now the temple was destroyed Jews cannot go up there since it is controlled by the Muslims.

Here is a better picture of that elevated entrance to the Temple Mount & the Dome Of The Rock. Entrance is tightly controlled by Muslim guards – entrance only from 7:30 to 10:30 am, except Friday & Saturday, Jews may not enter, you must show your passport, you must be dresses appropriately. Atop the Western Wall is a plaza about 3 football fields in size which contains the Dome Of the Rock, and the

A young Jewish boy celebrates his Bar Mitzvah.

The most notable structure when you arrive at the top of the Temple Mount is the Dome Of the Rock. The Dome Of The Rock is situated on the very spot which was first occupied by Solomon’s Jewish temple which was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD. This structure was built 691 CE. Only Muslims are allowed to enter & It contains the very rock on which Abraham was to sacrifice his son to God.

Muslim Police guard the entrance to the Dome Of The Rock – only Muslims are allowed to enter

The only other structure atop the Temple Mount is the Al-Aqsa Mosque

Here Muslim women congregate outside the Al-Aqua Mosque since only men are allowed to enter the mosque to worship