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JERUSALEM – The restoration work in the Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher is completed.  Pilgrims, visitors and the faithful will soon be able to admire the beauty of the Aedicule that protects the Tomb of  Christ.  An inauguration ceremony will take place in the Basilica  on Wednesday, March 22

Restoration work on the Tomb of Christ began less than a year ago in May 2016. Ten months later, with the help of generous benefactors and thanks to everyone’s patience, the scaffoldings will soon be completely taken down.  At the beginning of March, the work was in its final phase and particularly focused on the non-visible part of the Tomb.   The next few days will be devoted to the consolidation of the whole structure to prevent possible seismic movements and to preserve the Tomb in the event of a powerful earthquake, like the one that struck the country in 1927 that weakened the Aedicule.  The last work of consolidation of the Anastasis dates back to those devised by the British in 1947, who had been unable to complete the restoration because there was no agreement between the three Christian communities: Orthodox, Armenians and Franciscans who share custody of the Basilica.

For the first time since the status quo of 1857, an agreement was finally reached between the three Christian communities, which was essential to commence the restoration work last year.  Father Dobromir Jasztal, Vicar of the Custody of the Holy Land, openly describes this as “an historic moment for the Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher and for our presence in the Holy Land”.

“As in all projects of this type, it was not possible to avoid some difficulties,” says the Custodial Vicar, who nonetheless expressed a “good fraternal cooperation” between the communities.

This delicate project,  presented both technical and ecumenical challenges, and finally, completed successfully, now gives us hope, and Father Dobromir says “we were always able to face and solve problems with fraternal cooperation.  We hope that in the future, if needed, other projects can be planned, approved and carried out by the three Communities, for the benefit of the Basilica.”

The completion of the Restoration of the Tomb of Christ will be celebrated on Wednesday, March 22, with an inauguration ceremony that, just like the work done these past months, will be a sign of unity, bringing together all of the communities, authorities and representatives of the Churches of the Holy Land, as well as many religious, faithful and benefactors.

Vivien Laguette

Photo: The Aedicule sheltering the Tomb of Christ Thursday 2 March 2017 © LPJ.

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