Decades on, historic accord reached on renovation of Jerusalem's Holy Sepulcher Church

(Photo: © Peter Kenny / Ecumenical News)Worshipers at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem on Feb. 14, 2016.

The Church of the Holy Sepulcher is one of Christianity's best known places of worship which is said to house the tomb of Jesus in Jerusalem, but it is rather run down in parts.

The church is run as a consortium consisting of Custodia Terrae Sanctae, a Franciscan order that represents the Catholic Church; the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate; and the Armenian Patriarchate, who do not always agree and Coptic, Ethiopian and Syriac Orthodox churches also have a say.

The agreement assigns each part of the building, every floor tile, door, window and corridor, to a specific church, and any alternation, addition or repair requires all three churches to agree.

The church is located in the Christian Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem.

Advertisement

After decades of wrangling, however, within two months, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher will begin its first major renovation since Israel was established in 1948, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reports.

The privileges to look after the church were granted by the Ottoman rulers in 1853, and there have been disagreements aplenty since then sometimes even resulting in fisticuffs within the church.

The renovation will cost $3.4 million, Christian Today reports noting that the monument, dating back to 1810 in its present form, it to be completely rebuilt.

Marble slabs will be taken off and with repairs to the 12th century Crusader shrine beneath and the cracks in the rock-hewn tomb under that, where many Christians believe Jesus was buried, will be filled.

The Greek Orthodox, Armenian Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches will each pay a third of the cost.

The renovations will carried out National Technical University of Athens team and work will start May 15, expected to last eight months. The complex will remain open throughout this time.

In 1995 the six churches involved the Holy Sepulcher reached an agreement on painting a section of the central dome after taking 17 years of deliberation as an illustration of why the building look so rickety.

On Palm Sunday in 2008 a brawl erupted when a Greek monk was ejected from the building by a rival faction and in November of the same year, Armenian and Greek clerics clashed during celebrations for the supposed 4th-century discovery of the cross on which Christ was crucified.

The Armenians found their path blocked by a Greek Orthodox monk posted in the tomb and the clash went viral on Youtube.

Copyright © 2015 Ecumenical News