Time Capsule Unearthed at San Francisco’s Mt. Davidson Cross Commemorating First Easter Sunrise Service in 1923

Religious and political leaders joined for historic event to reveal  90 year-old time capsule items and the burial of a new time capsule

On Saturday, April 1, a time capsule was unearthed from the foot of Mt. Davidson Cross in San Francisco in front of a large crowd of onlookers.  Ninety years ago to the day, San Francisco officials and community members gathered at the top of Mt. Davidson Cross to witness Boy Scouts of America Troop 88 bury a sealed copper box at the foot of the Cross to commemorate the first Easter Sunrise Service held there on April 1, 1923.

“Historic moments like these held at Mt. Davidson Cross illustrates how our Armenian-American communities can enrich and inspire society by bringing people together under the ancient canopy of our resilience and hope,” commented Fr. Mesrop Ash, Pastor of St. John’s Armenian Apostolic Church in San Francisco and Board Member of the Mt. Davidson Cross Armenian Council. 

During the time capsule unearthing, representatives from the San Francisco Historical Society were present to delicately receive the items, which will be prepared for archiving and placed on display for public view at their San Francisco museum in June. 

Among the items found in the capsule were a leather-bound Bible, a San Francisco telephone book, pamphlets, a Boy Scout pin, a municipal record of 1933 and several newspapers including the March 27, 1932, edition of the San Francisco Chronicle, featuring a full front-page photo collage of an Easter celebration, and several other newspapers from the time, many with headlines referencing a murder case.

Following the unearthing of the old time capsule, a new, larger copper time capsule was buried at the same spot. Memorable items were presented by various local clergy leaders including Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, Archbishop of the Catholic Archdiocese of San Francisco and Metropolitan Gerasimos, Metropolitan of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of San Francisco. 

In his remarks, Archbishop Cordileone thanked the Armenian community in San Francisco saying, “We owe a huge debt of gratitude to the Armenian Community for what you did to preserve the cross on this spot and it stands as a constant reminder of the oppression of vulnerable people.”

Archbishop Cordileone placed the special edition of Catholic San Francisco magazine celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Assumption into the time capsule as well as a copy of Catholic San Francisco newspaper describing how the Church coped with the COVD-19 pandemic.

In addition, the Archbishop included a 2015 statement from Pope Francis during his visit to Tsitsernakaberd, the Armenian Genocide Memorial in Armenia, and read part of the statement to the crowd:

“I pray that here with sorrow in my heart that there might never again be tragedies like this one. That humanity might never forget and might know how to overcome evil with goodness. May God grant to the beloved Armenian people and to the whole world peace and consolation. May God preserve the memory of the Armenian people. The memory must neither be watered down nor forgotten. Memory is the fount of peace and of the future.”

Following the placement of items in the new time capsule, Archbishop Cordileone and other faith leaders led a prayer service for the Armenian people, the victims of the genocide, and for peace in the world.

Pictures: Greg Nemet, Mary Powers