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JERUSALEM — The tomb of Jesus has been raised to its former glory.
Just in time for Easter, a Greek restoration team has completed a historic renovation of the Edicule, the shrine that tradition says houses the cave where Jesus was entombed and rose from the dead.
Gone is the unsightly iron cage built around the shrine by British authorities in 1947 to shore up the walls. Gone is the black soot on the shrine’s stone façade from decades of pilgrims lighting candles. And gone are fears about the stability of the old shrine, which hadn’t been restored in more than 200 years.
“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 said Monday. “This is a complete transformation of the monument.”
The fund provided an initial $1.4 million for the $4 million restoration, thanks to a donation by Mica Ertegun, the widow of a co-founder of Atlantic Records. Jordan’s King Abdullah II and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas also chipped in about 150,000 euros each, along with other private and church donations, Burnham said.
The limestone and marble structure stands at the center of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem, one of the world’s oldest churches — a 12th-century building standing on 4th-century remains. The shrine needed urgent attention after years of exposure to environmental factors like water, humidity and candle smoke. In 2015, Israeli police briefly shut down the building after Israel’s Antiquities Authority deemed it unsafe, and repairs began in June 2016.
A restoration team from the National Technical University of Athens stripped the stone slabs from the shrine’s façade and patched up the internal masonry of the shrine, injecting it with tubes of grout for reinforcement. Each stone slab was cleaned, then put back in place. Titanium bolts were inserted into the structure for reinforcement, and frescos and the shrine’s painted dome were given a face-lift. The restorers have cut a small window from the shrine’s marble walls for pilgrims to see — for the first time — the bare stone of the ancient burial cave.
Now, money is being raised for another round of restorations — consolidating drainage and sewage pipes underground, around the tomb, to stabilize its foundations — so renovations won’t be needed for years to come.
“Here is a monument that has been worshipped through the centuries, and will be worshipped forever,” said Antonia Moropoulou, who supervised the renovation. ... See MoreSee Less
Jesus' tomb to reopen in Jerusalem after a $4 million restoration. ti.me/2o4PWWZ
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