Skip to content
Deacon Keith Fournier Hi readers, it seems you use Catholic Online a lot; that's great! It's a little awkward to ask, but we need your help. If you have already donated, we sincerely thank you. We're not salespeople, but we depend on donations averaging $14.76 and fewer than 1% of readers give. If you donate just $5.00, the price of your coffee, Catholic Online School could keep thriving. Thank you. Help Now >

Why a Muslim now holds the key to Christendom's greatest shrine

Free World Class Education
FREE Catholic Classes

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
7/31/2012 (6 years ago)
Catholic Online (https://www.catholic.org)

Monks unsure who's turn it is to put away the ladder

In the holiest place of all Christendom, a single Muslim holds the key, Christians fight with one another, and Jewish police intervene -- among the Christians -- to keep the peace. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the site of Christ's burial and resurrection, is also one of the most ironic places in all Christendom. 

Fights over seemingly trivial issues are part of the reason why this ladder hasn't moved in 255 years and a Muslim is entrusted with the keys to the door.

Fights over seemingly trivial issues are part of the reason why this ladder hasn't moved in 255 years and a Muslim is entrusted with the keys to the door.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
Catholic Online (https://www.catholic.org)
7/31/2012 (6 years ago)

Published in Middle East

Keywords: Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Muslim, Israel, police, monks, Orthodox, immovable ladder


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - A story reported by the IPS details the strange arrangement that has dominated the Church of the Holy Sepulchre for a very long time. Each day, the story reports, a Muslim man, and the only man with permission to wield the keys, unlocks and opens the door to the Church, while three factions within the church vie for control in disputes that frequently leave the church in disrepair and occasionally result in altercations, requiring Israeli police come to mediate the conflict. 

It is, in every way, a microcosm of what's wrong with the Holy Land. A region that should be sacred to Jews, Christians, and Muslims, is frequently at the heart of sometimes violent disputes. 

The Holy Land's problems, exacerbated by violence, are bizarre to say the least, which is part of the reason whythis  peculiar arrangement exists at the church.

Every morning, a monk must come to the door which is unlocked by a Muslim man who holds the keys to the church. Muslims have been entrusted with the keys since 1187, primarily because the various Christian factions which reside in the church cannot agree to nearly anything, and therefore to keep the church and its shrine open, the keys are entrusted to a Muslim family. According to historical records, and Adeeb Jawad Joudeh, who holds the keys, they have been handed down from one generation to the next, since being given to the family in 1187 by Sultan Saladin. 

But the heart of the problem is the constant feuding between the Christians entrusted with keeping the site. The church is manned by monks from various Christian religious communities, mostly from the  the Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches. They include the Franciscan order of the Latin Church as well as monks from various Eastern and Oriental rites of the Church. Protestants have no presence there.

The disagreements between the monks are often so bad that on several notable occasions in recent history, physical conflicts have erupted between the monks and the Israeli police have had to come in to restore order. 

One notable feature of the shrine is the "immovable ladder," a ladder that has literally remained unmoved since being set in place by a worker in 1757, or possibly earlier. Notably, the ladder disappeared for several days in 1997, possibly as a prank, but it was soon returned. An old agreement between the monks holds that nothing can be done in the church except by consensus, and that includes, amazingly enough, the movement of the ladder. And since 1757, the monks haven't agreed to move the ladder. 

The ladder long ago gained significance as a symbol of the division between the Orthodox and Catholic Churches. As a consequence, a papal request from the late Pope Paul VI asks that the ladder not be moved until the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches reach a state of authentic ecumenism, moving toward communion. 

This is why the holiest site in all Christendom must be unlocked by a Muslim and policed by Jews. 

It's not a flattering depiction of Christianity and it reveals just how much work the Church must do to heal the divisions in her midst. For now, we can pray the status quo continues as it has since 1187, and the site remains open for all pilgrims, as it should. As we do, we need to pray as well for the healing of the divisions in the separated Body of Christ. The prayer of Jesus Himself still echoes in the land where He walked "Father, may they Be One in Us... so that the world may believe" (John 17)   

 

---


'Help Give every Student and Teacher FREE resources for a world-class Moral Catholic Education'


Copyright 2019 - Distributed by THE CALIFORNIA NETWORK

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for January 2019
Young People and the Example of Mary.
That young people, especially in Latin America, follow the example of Mary and respond to the call of the Lord to communicate the joy of the Gospel to the world.


Comments


More Middle East

Killed in the Rwandan genocide, this couple is being considered for sainthood Watch

Image of

The story of Cyprien and Daphrose Rugumba is a story of atheism and devout faith, of a strained marriage and a love that overcomes ... continue reading


Iraqi archbishop longs for better times for his Church and his people Watch

Image of

Archbishop Petros Mouche heads the Syriac-Catholic Archdiocese of Mosul, Iraq†s second-largest city, which was captured by ISIS in the ... continue reading



Five years after priest's murder in Syria, Jesuits hope to introduce his cause Watch

Image of

During a visit to Homs last week, the superior general of the Society of Jesus said that he would be happy to open a cause of beatification ... continue reading


Netanyahu West Bank pledge could rule out 'two-state solution' in Middle East Watch

Image of

 Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Saturday that he will declare sovereignty over existing settlements in the West Bank ... continue reading


Indian bishop accused of rape could face charges this week Watch

Image of

The bishop accused of serially raping a nun could face criminal charges this week, as Indian police say they will ask a court to charge him ... continue reading


Never Miss any Updates!

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers.

Deacon Keith Fournier Hi readers, it seems you use Catholic Online a lot; that's great! It's a little awkward to ask, but we need your help. If you have already donated, we sincerely thank you. We're not salespeople, but we depend on donations averaging $14.76 and fewer than 1% of readers give. If you donate just $5.00, the price of your coffee, Catholic Online School could keep thriving. Thank you. Help Now >

Information
Learn about Catholic world

Catholic Online
Inform - Inspire - Ignite

Catholic Online Saints
Your saints explained

Catholic Online Prayers
Prayers for every need

Catholic Online Bible
Complete bible online

Catholic Online News
Your news Catholic eye

Daily Reading
Today's bible reading

Lent / Easter
Death & resurrection of Jesus

Advent / Christmas
Birth of Jesus

Rest of Catholic Online
All Catholic world we offer

Services
Products and services we offer

Catholic Online Shopping
Catholic medals, gifts & books

Advertise on Catholic Online
Your ads on catholic.org

Catholic Online Email
Email with Catholic feel

Education
Learn the Catholic way

Catholic Online School
Free Catholic education for all

Student Classes
K-12 & Adult Education Classes

Support Free Education
Tax deductible support Free education

Socials
Connect with us online

Catholic Online on Facebook
Catholic social network

Catholic Online on Twitter
Catholic Tweets

Catholic Online on YouTube
Enjoy our videos

Catholic Online on Instagram
Shared Catholic moments

Catholic Online on Pinterest
Catholic ideas style inspiration

Catholic Online Logo

Copyright 2019 Catholic Online. All materials contained on this site, whether written, audible or visual are the exclusive property of Catholic Online and are protected under U.S. and International copyright laws, © Copyright 2019 Catholic Online. Any unauthorized use, without prior written consent of Catholic Online is strictly forbidden and prohibited.

Catholic Online is a Project of Your Catholic Voice Foundation, a Not-for-Profit Corporation. Your Catholic Voice Foundation has been granted a recognition of tax exemption under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Federal Tax Identification Number: 81-0596847. Your gift is tax-deductible as allowed by law.