The site where Jesus is to believed to have been buried has undergone a major renovation - the first time in more than 200 years since the shrine was built. The Times of Israel's Joe Dyke reports that the newly restored site has now been reopened in Jerusalem's Church of the Holy Sepulchre:
Greek Orthodox Patriarch Theophilos III of Jerusalem, in his address to the ceremony, called the restoration “not only a gift to our Holy Land but to the whole world.”
“For the first time in over two centuries, this sacred edicule has been restored,” he said, referring to the shrine built in 1810 surrounding the tomb.
The shrine is a key part of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem’s Old City.
The church is located in Israeli-occupied east Jerusalem, which the Palestinians see as the capital of their future state, and the shrine was briefly closed by Israeli authorities in 2015 over security fears.
Centuries of candle smoke and visiting pilgrims had left the shrine discolored and almost black.
Parts of it were also coming loose, with warnings that it was structurally unsound and posed a risk to the millions of pilgrims who visit the site every year.
Following a $3.7 million renovation led by the church’s three main Christian denominations, the tomb has been painstakingly restored to its former glory — including a warm reddish-yellow coloring.
“Before this the monument was black,” chief renovator Antonia Moropoulou told AFP.
“This is the actual color of the monument, the color of hope...”