Restoration of Jesus' Tomb Shows Promising Cooperation, Says Church Officials

The Edicule, the 200-year old structure which is believed to be the tomb where Jesus' body was kept after his death, underwent major restorations and is now open again to the devoted.

Located in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Edicule was inaugurated less than a year ago by representatives from various Catholic bodies. The ecumenical ceremony that introduced one of the holiest sites to Christianity was led by delegates from the Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox and Armenian churches.

However, it was deemed unsafe soon after by Israeli officials, prompting its temporary closure and restoration — efforts that all three churches who share custody of the tomb agreed to.

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Some believed that the three religious bodies, with their centuries-old differences and altercations, would not be able to cooperate. Their agreement about the restoration signals the start of improving relations.

The nine-month renovation effort was concentrated on the Edicule — a small part of the burial chamber at the top. The project was allocated a $4 million budget and was overseen by the World Monuments Fund (MWF).

Restoration experts accomplished the ambitious task, led by Antonia Moropoulou of the National Technical University of Athens. They did most of the work at night so as not to disturb the Christian devotees who visit and pray at the holy site.

The conservation team fixed and strengthened the foundation masonry with titanium joints and opened the tomb to protect it from grout infection, Moropoulou said in a report by the CNN.

The second part of the restoration effort is scheduled to start next year to secure "long-term structural stability of the Edicule and to prevent damage from moisture from recurring the future."

The project was finished weeks before Easter, when — like in the previous years — the holy site expects an influx of pilgrims from all over the world.

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