EdibuleRestorationWknight94 talk [GFDL or CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Renovated tomb of Jesus unveiled

Jesus' tomb is now restored to recapture the glory it once had. The tomb, known as the Edicule, was repaired and refreshed by a specialist restoration team from Greece. The Edicule is where Jesus was buried inside a cave and from where he ascended to heaven. Millions of dollars were spent on the restoration.

Roman Emperor Constantine identified the Church of the Holy Sepulchre as Jesus' crucifixion site in 326 A.D. The church is located in the Old City area of modern day Jerusalem. This church sees thousands of pilgrims coming in every year. The maintenance and ownership of the structure are shared via a complex arrangement between Catholic, Armenian and Greek Orthodox Churches. All these three Christian denominations share the identical Easter date in 2017, April 16. Restoration work was needed for the church after hundreds of years of damage due to condensation from visitors' breaths and also due to thermal stress. The latter was the result of candles burning for many hours in the vicinity.

The need for restoration intensified after Israeli police shut down the structure for a short period of time after it was deemed unsafe by the Antiquities Authority of Israel. Repairs started in June 2016. The National Technical University of Athens sent restoration team stripped away the stone slabs which made up the facade of the shrine. Internal masonry was then patched up by the team. Grout was injected into the masonry for better reinforcement. The stone slabs were individually cleaned prior to putting them in their former position. Titanium bolts were put in too.

The Greek team did an excellent restoration job. They hurriedly built iron cage that protected the shrine was removed. It was put there by the British in 1947. The black soot which characterized the stone facade of the shrine was removed. The stability of the shrine was also improved. According to Bonnie Burnham of World Monuments Fund, there was an even chance of a structural collapse if the work was not undertaken.

Funds for restoration came in from a number of sources. The first tranche of $1.4 million of a total restoration expense of $4 million was donated by the widow of the Atlantic Records founder. King Abdullah II of Jordan and President Mahmoud Abbas of Palestine also contributed approximately 150,000 euros each. The rest of the money came from the church and private donations.

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