Stone of Anointing

By the Editors of the Madain Project

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The Stone of Anointing, also called the Stone of Unction (from Latin, unctio, meaning; the action of anointing someone with oil or ointment as a religious rite or as a symbol of investiture as a monarch), according to Christian tradition this is the slab where the body of Jesus was prepared for burial. On entering the church, directly ahead is the Stone of the Anointing (or Unction), in memory of the piety of Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea, who prepared Jesus’ body for burial.


The Stone of Anointing at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Located just inside the entrance to the church is the Stone of Anointing (also Stone of the Anointing or Stone of Unction), which tradition believes to be the spot where Jesus' body was prepared for burial by Joseph of Arimathea. However, this tradition is only attested since the crusader era. There is a difference of opinion as to whether it is to be seen as the 13th Station of the Way of the Cross.

Originally the stone wasn't located in this area, it was installed here during the reconstruction of the Church after 1810 CE fire that destroyed a major part of the building.


circa 350 CE

The Stone of Anointing is a flat stone slab that contains a reddish hue throughout its texture. The stone sits about a half meter (foot and a half) off the floor and is surrounded by a stone encasement with decorative orbs sitting atop each corner. Tall candlesticks stand on each end of the stone.

The lamps that hang over the Stone of Unction, adorned with cross-bearing chain links, are contributed by Armenians, Copts, Greeks and Latins. It belongs jointly to the Greek Orthodox, Catholics and Armenian Orthodox, and dates back only to 1810 CE.

Anointing Scene Wall

circa 350 CE

The wall behind the stone is defined by its striking blue balconies and tau cross-bearing red banners (depicting the insignia of the Brotherhood of the Holy Sepulchre), and is decorated with lamps. The modern three-part mosaic along the wall depicts the anointing of Jesus' body, preceded on the right by the Descent from the Cross, and succeeded on the left by the Burial of Jesus. The wall with the painting isn't part of the original building it was installed as a load-bearing wall for the structure above.

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