A ladder sits outside a window of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. It’s been there for centuries. It’s become known as the Immovable Ladder.
It’s not particularly heavy. It’s not serving any special purpose. But it has to stay where it is. The ladder is referred to as immovable due to an understanding that no cleric of the six ecumenical Christian orders may move, rearrange, or alter any property without the consent of the other five orders.
Upon the pontifical orders of Pope Paul VI in 1964, the ladder was to remain in place until such a time when the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church reach a state of ecumenism.
There are six Christian orders that claim rights over the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which is the traditional site of Jesus’ tomb. The dealings between these groups have been less than peaceful; many physical altercations have taken place between monks representing different groups. In 2002, a Coptic monk moved his chair 8 inches to a shadier spot; the fight that broke out because of this “hostile act” sent 11 holy men to the hospital.
Because of these frictions, many agreements have had to be drawn up to keep the peace. The actual keys to the church are held by a Muslim, for not one of the orders trusts the others to allow them access.
So it’s come to pass that a ladder has been in place for over 250 years. No one really knows where it came from. Nobody uses it. The ladder stands as a symbol to the division in Christianity.