21 March 2017
Jesus' tomb unveiled after historic restoration project
The restored shrine will be unveiled during a ceremony at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem’s Old City on 23 March
Ahead of Easter, a Greek restoration team has completed a historic renovation of the Edicule, the shrine said to have housed the cave where Jesus was buried.
The restored shrine will be unveiled during a ceremony at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem’s Old City on 23 March. Patriarch Bartholomew I, the spiritual leader of the world’s Orthodox Christians, and a representative of Pope Francis will attend the service.
“If this intervention hadn’t happened now, there is a very great risk that there could have been a collapse,” Bonnie Burnham of the World Monuments Fund told Associate Press. “This is a complete transformation of the monument.”
Six different denominations (Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Armenian Apostolic, Syrian Orthodox, Ethiopian Orthodox and Copts) share custody of the Holy Sepulchre church, but they put aside their longstanding religious rivalries to allow the restoration. Disputes between the different denominations are said to have delayed restoration work for decades.
The nine-month restoration project was carried out by a team of about 50 experts from the National Technical University of Athens, which had previously worked on the Acropolis in the Greek capital and the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul.
The conservators worked mainly at night in order to allow pilgrims continued access to the shrine.
The World Monuments Fund provided an initial $1.4 million of the $4 million restoration, while further donations came from Jordan’s King Abdullah II and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas along with other private and church donations.
The shrine has been rebuilt four times in its history, most recently in 1810 after a fire.
The shrine is said to have needed urgent attention after years of exposure to environmental factors like water, humidity and candle smoke.
The structure had been held in place for almost 70 years by iron girders put up on the instructions of a British governor who ruled Palestine in the Mandate era. They have now been removed.
PICTURE: A pilgrim lights candles near the Altar of the Crucifixion in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, home to the shrine said to have housed the cave where Jesus was buried. The shrine has been subject to an extensive restoration project.
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