03/14/2022, 17.15
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The restoration of the floor of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem gets underway

The custos of the Holy Land, the Greek Orthodox patriarch and a representative of the Armenian Patriarchate were present at the start of the new works. The Custodia is coordinating the activity. “In this historical context, with the pandemic and the war, cooperation on the restoration work takes on a different meaning,” said Custos Fr Patton. AsiaNews’ pilgrimage to the Holy Land is set for 20-27 June to invoke the gift of peace.

Jerusalem (AsiaNews) – This morning, an official ceremony inaugurated the conservation and restoration work of the floor of the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre, the heart of Christianity, in Jerusalem’s Old City.

The city’s main Christian leaders were present, including representatives of the three religions entrusted with the care of the church: Greek Orthodox Patriarch Theophilus III, the Custos of the Holy Land Fr Francesco Patton, and the Grand Sacristan of the Armenian Patriarchate Sevan Gharibian, representing Patriarch Nourhan Manougian.

The works are part of the rearrangement of the Aedicule of Christ’s tomb carried out in 2016-2017 by the Greek Orthodox patriarchate. Today they are coordinated by the Custodia, in cooperation with Rome’s La Sapienza University, Milan’s Politecnico, and other leading organisations.

This second phase involves restoring the flooring of the entire building, as well as any interventions to make the Aedicule safe, checking electrical, water and mechanical systems as well as ensuring compliance with fire regulations.

The ceremony was divided into two parts. At the beginning, three prayers were recited in as many languages, Greek, Latin and Armenian, each led by a different Christian Church responsible for the Status Quo.

The Greek Orthodox patriarch spoke, mentioning the previous works, and expressed his enthusiasm for the ongoing activity, the result of meticulous albeit not always easy agreements worked out between the Churches of the Holy Land. This site, stressed Theophilus III, is a "sign of hope for the world".

Fr Francesco Patton spoke of a “project in common” that began two years ago, whose completion was “slowed down” by the pandemic. However, “now we are ready to start. In this historical context, with the pandemic and the war, cooperation on the restoration work takes on a different meaning, because this is the spot where Jesus becomes a cornerstone of the Church,” reads the Custodia’s website.

Armenian Archbishop Sevan Gharibian was grateful to see the works go ahead and was “enthusiastic” about the unity of purpose behind them.

At the end of the speeches, Church officials lifted the first stone together (see picture from Custos’ website) symbolically marking the official start of the works.

During this period, the basilica will remain open to pilgrims, who are slowly returning to the Holy Land after the two years of pandemic and closed borders.

To show its support for local Christians and to reopen the world to travel, AsiaNews, in cooperation with the Centro PIME in Milan, is promoting pilgrimages to the places touched by Jesus.

At this difficult moment in history, this will help the Holy Land and encourage pilgrims meet local communities who live their faith. This initiative also takes on the character of a special invocation for peace in a world brutalised by war.

One trip is scheduled for 20-27 June, and the deadline for registration is 4 April. For more information about AsiaNews pilgrimages, click here (in Italian).

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