Jerusalem Churches Leaders, restoration of the aedicule of the Holy Sepulchre is symbol of brotherhood and co-operation The Edicule in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre underwent a major renovation after it was deemed unsafe

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An ecumenical re-dedication service took place in Jerusalem’s Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre on Wednesday as restoration work on the chapel containing Jesus burial place was unveiled. Representatives of all the local Christian Churches gathered alongside special guests including Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, spiritual leader of the Orthodox world.

The 200-year-old structure covering the tomb was renovated for the first time after Israeli authorities deemed it unsafe and leaders from the three churches that share custody of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre came to an agreement for the work to proceed.

Last year an intensive restoration programme began with a budget estimated at 3.5 million dollars. The 3 main Christian groups in charge of maintaining the holy sites, Greek Orthodox, Armenians and the Franciscan Custody financed the works, together with funding from the Greek government, the Palestinian Authority and from the Jordanian royal family.

The Vatican also contributed a million dollars to the project and to the restoration of the Basilica of the Nativity in Bethlehem. That money will be much needed since today’s unveiling marks only the first stage of a much larger project to lift the floor, reset the pipes and shore up the foundations of the shrine.

Some did not believe the churches could overcome their centuries-old disagreements, but the project was a sign that “with God, nothing is impossible,” said Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, apostolic administrator of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, adding that the event provided an opportunity “to build a new relationship among us based on trust and respect.”

In his address, the Custos of the Holy Land, Fr Francis Patton, expressed hope for peace and joy for the completion of the work in time for Easter, which this year falls on the same day for Catholics and Orthodox. This represents a kind of restoration for “all Christianity” that helps the Churches become closer, and able to work together and feel “as brothers”.

Armenian Patriarch Nourhan Manougian mentioned the Passion and commandment of love of Jesus who “told us that to be his disciples we must love one another”.
“My dear brothers,” he went on to say, “we all read the same Gospel, the same words, translated into our language. We have no difference of opinion on this commandment. Christian solidarity is a sign that our love for Christ goes beyond our cultural, liturgical and linguistic differences.”

He also took the opportunity to mention the three other denominations with a presence in the church — the Assyrian Orthodox, the Ethiopian Orthodox and the Coptic Orthodox. He asked that the Anglican and Russian Orthodox churches be allowed to offering their holy liturgy at the Edicule once a year, after Easter.

Several hundred local faithful, pilgrims and international dignitaries filled the main area of the basilica where the Edicule is located, taking pictures and videos of the pink-stoned structure. The metal girders that British Mandate authorities added in 1947 to keep it standing have been removed.

Several hundred local faithful, pilgrims and international dignitaries filled the main area of the basilica where the Edicule is located, taking pictures and videos of the pink-stoned structure. The metal girders that British Mandate authorities added in 1947 to keep it standing have been removed.

 

 

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