(Jerusalem Patriarchate) - At noon of Tuesday the 18th/ 31st of May 2016, His Beatitude Theophilos, Patriarch of Jerusalem, welcomed Metropolitans Pavlos of Servia and Kozani; Chrysostomos of Trikki and Stagi, and Chariton of Elassona, of the Church of Greece. The Metropolitans were accompanied by a group of fifteen clerics.
To the Hierarchs and their entourage, His Beatitude spoke of the works in progress for the protection, conservation and restoration of the Aedicula of the Holy Sepulchre. He then went on to inspect the aforementioned works, in the presence of Mr Theodosios Mitropoulos, Architect of the Technical Office of the Holy Sepulchre, Hagiotaphite Fathers, the representative of the Greek Consulate-General, Mr Vasileios Koinis, and the representative of the Old City Police, Mr Johnny Kassabri. From there, the Patriarch proceeded to the Office of the Church of the Resurrection, where He was reverently welcomed by the Elder Sacristan, Archbishop Isidoros of Hierapolis.
(Christian Times) - Considered as one of the most sacred sites by Christians, the restoration project on the Holy Sepulchre Church is considered timely as Jesus' tomb is reported to be "on the verge of collapse."
Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported on Monday, May 30 that what many Christians believe as the Tomb of Jesus was "on the verge of collapse." The report stated that in order to save the historical site, an eight-month major restoration work has begun.
The 19th-century structure of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem was built over a cave believed to be the same place where Jesus had been crucified, buried, and resurrected. The site has also been a cause for contention among rival Christian denominations fighting over for control, according to the New York Times.
On May 20, members of the Greek Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Armenian churches met together at the sacred site as an estimated $3.4 million year-long project is formally announced. The action by the leading Christian denominations was in response to the Israeli government's urgent warning that the historical site was already in danger of collapsing after nearly two centuries of erosion.
"The shrine's marble slabs have weakened over the years, caused in part by daily visits from thousands of pilgrims and tourists," AFP reported on the condition of the church.
"Workers in the church erected scaffolding and a steel canopy over the entrance to the tomb structure, to protect visitors from possible debris," the report added.
The restoration project aims to repair, reinforce, and conserve the structure. Tourists can still visit the site during the restoration process.
The Custody of the Holy Land, which manages properties in the area belonging to the Roman Catholic Church said that the shrine will be "painstakingly dismantled and rebuilt" during the restoration work which would last up to eight months.
"We need to believe that, just as the stone before the tomb was cast aside, so, too, every obstacle to our full communion will also be removed," Catholic Herald quoted Pope Francis as saying as he met and prayed with Eastern Orthodox Church's Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople at the site in May 2014.