Appearances after the resurrection
What occurred early in the morning of the day following the Sabbath, must have taken place in that “garden” in which the tomb donated by Joseph of Arimathea for the burial of Jesus was located.
The area to the north of the Rotunda resonates with the memories of the announcement of the Resurrection.
According to the Synoptic Gospels, the women were the first witnesses to the announcement when, having gone to the Tomb to anoint the body of their Master, they discovered the stone rolled away from the tomb and an angel in dazzling garments who told them: “He is not here, He is risen”.
As John the Evangelist tells us, Mary Magdalene was the first to encounter the risen Jesus who had not yet ascended to the Father, and he entrusted to her the task of announcing the Resurrection.
Passing beyond the columns of the Rotunda one enters into the area belonging to the Franciscans. The altar to the right is dedicated to Mary Magdalene. In this area, in addition to celebrating the majority of their services at the Tomb, it is customary to encounter Franciscan fathers engaged in meeting pilgrims and hearing their confessions. From here one enters the Latin Chapel of the Apparition of Jesus to his Mother. This ancient memory is not reported in the Gospels but has been handed down in this chapel, where the Column of the Flagellation is preserved.
Behind these areas is located the Franciscan Monastery where the fathers serving in the church live permanently. The north aisle of the church is formed by a series of arches, said to be “of the Virgin” because they commemorate the visits of the Virgin Mary to the Tomb. This memory is linked to the five smaller columns alongside the Crusader pillars.
The columns are the remains from Monomachus’ 11th century arcade that, like the original Constantinian design, surrounded the open area in front of the Anastasis on three sides.