Jerusalem, March 24, 2020
Parishioners and pilgrims to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem are being called upon to take special precautions when visiting the site, including not touching or venerating any of the sacred sites or objects within it.
This appeal was made by the leaders of the Christian communities represented in the various chapels of the Holy Sepulchre: His Beatitude Patriarch Theophilos III of Jerusalem of the Orthodox Church; Francesco Patton, the Custos of the Holy Land (Franciscans); and Arch. Nourhan Manougian, the Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem.
The appeal was published on the site of the Custos of the Holy Land on March 21.
“This dangerous situation” surrounding the coronavirus “has not passed over the Holy Land and the Holy City of Jerusalem,” the statement reads. “We are called to live this time in faith and confidence in the Lord’s mercy and His care for all His creatures.”
At the same time, we are all called to follow the guidelines from the competent health authorities as well.
Nevertheless, services will continue in the Holy Sepulchre “even in these sad times when pilgrims cannot reach Jerusalem and local faithful are compelled to remain at their homes.”
Thus, the primates urge worshipers to:
“Refrain from any gatherings of more than 10 people in the same place and at the same time in the Basilica.
Keep a minimal distance of 2 meters between each person.
Avoid any act of devotion that might include physical contact such as touching and kissing the stones, touching icons, vestments and the personnel in the Basilica.
To abide always by the instructions of the authorities.”
The Holy Sepulchre is the “ultimate place of hope … that faith will defeat doubt, light will defeat darkness and life will triumph over death,” the statement reads.