(Vatican Radio) Jordan’s King Abdullah II will fund the restoration of Christ’s Tomb in Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
Bishop William Shomali, Latin Patriarchal Vicar in Jerusalem, warmly welcomed the decision of King Abdullah: “This is excellent news, news of a highly symbolic character, since the Holy Sepulchre is the most sacred place for Christians of all confessions. This decision shows the kindness of the King towards Christians and his constant concern to preserve the heritage of Christianity, including his role as guarantor of the Holy Places, Christian and Muslim, Jerusalem, according to the Wadi Araba agreement.”
Jordan’s Royal Court informed the Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem of the “makruma” (Royal Benefaction) in a letter addressed to His Beatitude Theophilos III on 10 April. For his part, the Orthodox Patriarch praised the generosity of King Abdullah, recalling how His Majesty remains the faithful guardian and custodian of Muslim and Christian Holy Places of Jerusalem.
The Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem and the Latin Custody of the Holy Land announced during Holy Week that restoration works on Christ’s Tomb would begin soon after the Orthodox Easter solemnities. The Holy Sepulchre, also known as the Basilica of the Resurrection, has been the holiest site of Christian pilgrimage since the 4th century. The Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem reports that the restoration work was needed because scientific studies had revealed grave problems of moisture from the “condensation of the breath of visitors,” and oxidation due to candle smoke.
The Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem says the aedicule, the place of burial and Resurrection of Christ, will be the object of the restoration. It has remained untouched since 1947 when the British put in place steel support beams as part of a restoration project that never took place. The funds offered by His Majesty for the project will be entrusted to a Greek team led by Professor Antonia Moropoulou of the National Technical University of Athens.
The three main Christian denominations that worship at the Church include the Greek Orthodox, Latin and Armenian Churches. All have agreed to cooperate for the realization of the restoration effort.