In June, a team of experts began renovations on the church of the Holy Sepulchre in the Old City of Jerusalem which is being believed to be the burial place of the Nazarene Jewish teacher Jeshua, today better known as Jesus Christ. The resurrection of Christ from the dead is a core tenet of Christian belief — the gospels say the tomb was found to be empty by those who visited it a few days after the crucifixion.
In 325 C.E. the Church of the Holy Sepulchre was built by the Emperor Constantine and veneration was given at that place, where there there is this special place, the Edicule or ancient chamber that held Jesus‘ tomb. The Edicule was rebuilt between 1808 and 1810 following its destruction by fire and is now being restored by scientists from the National Technical University of Athens.
Jerusalem had to face an unsteady 206-year-old structure, held together by a 69-year-old iron cage, which became an uncomfortable, often embarrassing symbol of Christian divisions, which have periodically erupted into tensions. The painstaking work has needed to be done for years, but strife between the three religious groups (Greek Orthodox, Franciscans and Armenians) who control the tomb today has historically prevented any renovations.
In the 1950s Jordanian authorities, who controlled East Jerusalem at the time, pushed Christian representatives into forming a technical bureau to address the 1927 quake damage. Unfortunately, the process broke down more than a decade later, according to Father Macora.
Early 2015, the Israeli government temporarily barricaded the structure, claiming the shrine was unsafe and near collapse, finally prompting the three groups to put aside their differences and work together to come up with a renovation plan.
Last March the different groups came unto an agreement for a $3.4 million renovation which started after Orthodox Easter celebrations. Each religious group will contribute one-third of the costs, and a Greek bank contributed 50,000 euros, or $57,000, for the scaffolding, in return for having its name emblazoned across the machinery.
Piece by piece the shrine must be dismantled to be rebuilt later, having broken or fragile parts being replaced while marble slabs that can be preserved will be cleaned, and the structure supporting them will be reinforced, in the hope to end the project by early 2017.
The restoration, which includes the Edicule’s interior tomb, is being overseen by the National Technical University’s Chief Scientific Supervisor Antonia Moropoulu.
The researchers uncovered the slab, which has been covered by marble cladding since at least 1555 C.E., has been exposed as part of a major restoration project at the church, according to National Geographic magazine.
“The marble covering of the tomb has been pulled back, and we were surprised by the amount of fill material beneath it,”
“It will be a long scientific analysis, but we will finally be able to see the original rock surface on which, according to tradition, the body of Christ was laid.”
The rock surface, or “burial bed” was hewn from the side of a limestone cave following Christ’s crucifixion, according to Christian tradition.
“The techniques we’re using to document this unique monument will enable the world to study our findings as if they themselves were in the tomb of Christ.”
said Mr. Antonia Moropoulou, the National Technical University’s Chief Scientific Supervisor
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