The Greek experts assigned to restore the chapel over the rock-cut tomb where Christians believe Jesus was buried, the holiest shrine in Christendom, have finished the project and chapel reopens in March.
The work on the chapel, inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, included lifting the slab over the tomb. In Oct 2016, the experts lifted the marble covering, giving them an unprecedented opportunity to study the original rock surfaces.
The tomb was opened after a fire in 1808 destroyed the Crusader-era chapel. The present edifice is buckling under its own weight. The experts will stabilise it with titanium bolts and mortar, repair a fracture in the rock and clean the marble surfaces.
The restoration is decades overdue, held up by arguments between the several religious orders that have custodial rights at the Holy Sepulchre about how the work should be carried out. The donations that have been pledged to cover the cost of the project may have helped break the deadlock. The Washington Post reports that King Abdullah II of Jordan, a Muslim who has rights as a protector of holy sites in Jerusalem, has pledged a significant sum.
Date written/update: 2017-03-11