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Jesus’s tomb unveiled at ceremony in Jerusalem

Wednesday, Mar 22, 2017,18:18 IST By anju A A A

Jerusalem | The newly renovated tomb, where Jesus’s body is believed to have been interred after crucifixion, was unveiled at a ceremony here today after nine months of painstaking restoration work costing about USD 4 million.

A team of scientists and restorers have completed work on one of Christianities most sacred monuments in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.

At the centre of the restoration work was a small structure above the burial chamber, known as the Edicule, on which a team of about 50 experts from the National Technical University of Athens, which had previously worked on the Acropolis in the Greek capital and the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, worked for almost nine months.

The conservators worked mainly at night in order to allow pilgrims continued access to the shrine.

A marble slab covering the rock carved tomb was lifted for the first time in October last year in more than two centuries, allowing restoration workers to examine the original rock shelf or “burial bed” on which Jesus’s body is thought to have rested.

A small window has been cut open into marble slabs to allow pilgrims a glimpse of the rock.

The distasteful iron caging around the monument and dark black marks from candles burnt by pilgrims have all disappeared from the structure with the restorers stabilising the shrine with titanium bolts and mortar and cleaning up thick layers of candle soot and pigeon droppings.

The work involved the use of radar, laser scanners and drones.

The structure needed reinforcement and conservation, including installation of an underground drainage network for rainwater and sewage, said Antonia Moropoulou, a professor at the National Technical University of Athens, who oversaw the restoration work.

Israeli authorities had shut down the building in 2015 after Israel’s Antiquities Authority deemed it unsafe and the repair work started only in June 2016.

The unveiling ceremony to mark the completion of the restoration will be in the presence of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, the spiritual leader of the world’s Orthodox Christians, and a representative of Pope Francis.

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre, in the heart of the Christian quarter of the walled Old City, covers the assumed site of Jesus’s crucifixion, burial and resurrection.

It is a huge attraction for pilgrims and tourists from all over the world, many weeping and clutching precious mementos or photographs of loved ones can be seen forming long queues to see the shrine.