The celebrations of Holy Wednesday in Jerusalem introduce the Paschal Triduum

The celebrations of Holy Wednesday in Jerusalem introduce the Paschal Triduum

The Singing of the Passion of Luke in the Basilica of the Agony and the veneration of the Column

The two solemn celebrations that are held on Holy Wednesday in Jerusalem introduced the Paschal Triduum through a day of reflection on the mystery of the Passion of Jesus.

The two liturgical moments took place first at Gethsemane and then in the Chapel of the Apparition in the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre.

The Singing of the passion in the Basilica of the Agony

In the early morning of 27 March, the song Vexilla Regis started the Eucharistic celebration presided over by Fra Alessandro Coniglio, Discreet of the Holy Land and lecturer at the Studium Biblicum Franciscanum.

The solemn hymn of the Holy Cross resonated throughout the Basilica of the Agony, the place to which Jesus retreated after the Last Supper before being betrayed by Judas and arrested. Here, at the foot of the Mount of Olives, Jesus said the intense prayer before his Passion: “Then Jesus came with them to a place named Gethsemane and he said to his disciples: ‘Sit here while I go over there and pray’” (Matthew 26,36).

The friars of the Custody reached St Saviour’s convent in a procession with other religious and local faithful who followed the proclamation of the Passion according to Luke, sung in three voices.

The proclamation of all the canonical Gospels

“The beauty of the liturgy of Jerusalem,” commented Fra Alessandro, “is that unlike all the other dioceses in the world, we can hear all the Gospels of the Passion in Holy Week at the different peregrinations. Yesterday at the Sepulchre, the Passion of the Gospel according to Matthew was proclaimed. We heard the Gospel according to Mark on Palm Sunday and Good Friday is the day of the evangelist John.”

The Passion according to the Gospel of Luke is always sung in the Basilica of the Agony because only this evangelist refers to the phenomenon of Jesus sweating blood on the rock. After reading this verse, the chronicler-singer goes to the stone of the Agony, in front of the altar, kneels down and kisses it.

Sweating blood: the salvific meaning for humanity

Hematidrosis, or “sweating blood”, has a fundamental meaning for us,” Fra Alessandro continues, “It is not so much a question of biology, of the loss of liquid tissue: in the Old Testament, blood indicates life and therefore this “giving blood” by Jesus means the gift of his life for us and for our redemption.”

The veneration of the Column of the Flagellation of Christ

In the second part of the morning, the faithful and the friars went to the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre for the traditional veneration of the Column of the Flagellation of Christ: today, the precious relic is kept in the Chapel of the Apparition.

The blood of the Lord is still the liturgical connection between the rock of Gethsemane and the column of the Flagellation: his blood was spilt on both during his passion. As early as the 4th century, the pilgrim Egeria informs us of the veneration of this column which, at that time, however, was in the Cenacle and was adored at dawn on Good Friday. The column was not taken to the Holy Sepulchre until the 14th century. 

The assembly intoned the hymn “Columna nobilis” and then the friars and the faithful present went up one by one to pay tribute to the venerated column.

Silvia Giuliano