Let us focus our attention on Calvary, the focal point of the Crusader church.
This preserves for us half of the Paschal mystery, that part which is painful and meritorious: the crucifixion and death of Christ, new Adam and our destiny of salvation and glory.
Name and location
The word Calvary comes from Latin.
It is a translation of the Hebrew term Golgotha, which means “skull”. The name was due to the appearance of the site, an ancient abandoned quarry filled with rough-hewn rocks. John, an eyewitness to the Passion, tells us that “the Place of the Skull, in Hebrew, Golgotha” was closeby Jerusalem.
Today Calvary is within the walls of the Old City.
Jesus died on the Cross which he himself had carried, helped by a certain Simon of Cyrene, symbol of the disciple who carries the cross behind Jesus. The Cross was a post with two overlapping beams.
In the second century St. Irenaeus of Lyon gave it the following simboli meaning: “The incarnate Word, suspended from a tree in order to redeem us and give us life, brought together the two peoples, Jews and pagans, through the extension of the arms. For there were two arms because there were two peoples scattered to the ends of the earth, but at the center there was but one head.”
Jesus was crucified at noon and died at three in the afternoon. It was a Friday, the eve of Passover, on the 13th of Nisan, probably Friday 7 April 30 AD.
It was the time, according to the Jewish ritual, in which all fermented things had to be removed from the house to make way for the unleavened bread of Passover. For the New Testament, these rituals were symbols of the Christian mystery: the sacrifice of Jesus, our Passover Lamb, marked the beginning of the new and eternal alliance between God and man.
Calvary is the altar of the world. Christ crucified is both priest and victim of the sacrifice by which the work of redemption was accomplished.
Everything on Calvary revolves around the Crucified One, Lord of nature and history. Everything and everyone acquire meaning fro him: his Mother, the pious women, John, the crucifiers, the bystanders, humanity and the entire creation. We are now in the fullness of time.