Christian denominations team up for the restoration of Jesus’ tomb.
The Church of the Holy Sepulchre is a church within the Christian Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem. The church contains the two holiest sites in Christendom: Calvary/Golgotha where Jesus Christ was crucified and the empty tomb of Jesus, where He was buried, and later resurrected. The control of the church is shared by several Christian denominations and also some secular entities. Over the centuries, the church suffered many damages.
In the year 614, the building was damaged by a fire. In 746, the structure suffered severe damages due to an earthquake. The dome of the structure was damaged in an early ninth-century earthquake. In 966, a riot caused the basilica to burn again. In 1009, Fatimid Caliph Al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah ordered the complete destruction of the church. Only a few parts of the church remained. In 1027, Caliph Ali az-Zahir agreed for the church to be rebuilt and redecorated. The work was completed in 1048.
Recently, the Israeli government announced that nearly two centuries of erosion has made the church unstable, that the site is in grave danger of collapsing. This prompted three of the prominent Christian denominations controlling the church, the Roman Catholic, Armenian Orthodox, and Greek Orthodox, to join hands and begin a year-long project to repair, reinforce, and conserve the church. The estimated cost of the project is $3.4 million. The project is currently funded by contributions from the three denominations, as well as an undisclosed amount (donation) from King Abdullah of Jordan.
In an interview given to Jordan Times, the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, Theophilos III, said that they are reaping the fruits of the efforts put in by them in an age when on the one side of the world the sectarian wars are burning countries. King Abdullah has constantly reiterated that the Christian and Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem are a red line that Jordan will not allow to be crossed. Theophilos III also said that the nation has always upheld its historic and religious responsibilities, and it continues to do so.
The Church of the Holy Sepulcher serves also as the headquarters of the Greek Orthodox Patriarch.
Last year, in a show of solidarity, Eastern Orthodox Church's Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople and Pope Francis met and prayed together at the Holy Sepulchre, for the first time in fifty years.
One reason why there has been no major restoration project in the past has been due to the constant rivalry between the various Christian denominations. According to Pope Francis, it is necessary to believe that all the obstacles that stand in the way of the communion between the different Christian denominations may also be removed just like how the stone that was covering the tomb was cast aside.