One of Christianity’s holiest sites has been restored by a Greek team of scientists, after a year-long, multi-million dollar restoration. The tomb where Jesus is believed to have been buried in Jerusalem’s Old City has been unveiled again after months of delicate restoration work.
Today’s ceremony marked the completion, in the presence of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I and a representative of Pope Francis. Also in attendance was Greek Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras.
The tomb was formally reopened in a ceremony attended by many religious leaders and donors and its $3.7m renovation was led by the church’s three main Christian denominations.
The Greek Orthodox, Armenian and Roman Catholic denominations share custody of the church, but disputes between the three have led to renovations being delayed for decades.
The same Greek team that restored the Acropolis in Athens and worked on Hagia Sophia in Constantinople, was chosen to restore it. A year ago, Professor Antonia Moropoulou and her team of 50 scientists from the National Technical University of Athens arrived in Jerusalem to commence the project, which focused on a small structure above the burial chamber, known as the Edicule.
The restoration team removed each marble slab, numbered them and delicately used Q-Tip-like cotton swabs to clean them before putting them back.
A special moment of the renovation came last October when workers entered the inner sanctum of the shrine, the burial chamber of Jesus. An old marble layer covering the bedrock where Jesus’ body is said to have been placed was temporarily slid open.
The restorers have also cut a small window from the shrine’s marble walls for pilgrims to see- for the first time- the bare stone of the ancient burial cave.