JERUSALEM – Restoration of the Holy Tomb of Christ at the Holy Sepulchre started some three months ago. Blocks & scaffoldings now surround the Aedicule for reconstruction works 24 hours a day.

Pilgrims who come to worship at the Holy Sepulchre will be surprised at the view in front of their eyes: for several weeks the Tomb of Christ, under the big dome of the Basilica, is almost entirely overshadowed by scaffoldings and blocks protecting the working site.

The facade of the Aedicule was stripped of, and the many decorative oil lamps were replaced by security inlets, allowing worshippers to walk without risk inside the Holy Tomb, the space surrounding this, filled by workers, is now closed to public. Regularly the Custody of the Holy Land, guardian of the site together with the Greek Orthodox Community and the Armenian Church, works up a summary of the progress of restoration work: “the most important work is focused on the Northern facade. The Ottoman baroque architecture had drawn on the facade three windows as walled in. They are no more. Marble stone plaques which shut them off were removed, revealing masonry”, was indicated lately. The dismantled pieces are brought inside the Franciscan Convent, where a workshop was set up. They are being regularly cleaned and restored, exactly as they are, then interposed prior to reconstruction.

The work includes dismantling, cleaning and reconstruction of the Tomb, becoming more and more fragile over the year because of the inflow of pilgrims and tourists. Built in 1810 by the Greek Orthodox Community, in the wake of an arson, which gutted the older construction of 1808, the present Edicule is the latest to be built on this site since the time of Emperor Constantine in the 5th Century.

The Tomb of Christ will remain accessible to pilgrims during the progress of the work and the restoration is expected to be completed in early next year. The worshippers who will spend the night locked inside the Basilica will witness yet noisier works which could require the closure of the whole structure.

Thomas Charrière
Photos : ©LPJ/Thomas Charrière
Vidéo : ©Nizar Halloun/TSM

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