Last week thousands of pilgrims and members of the clergy from around the world gathered in the Christian quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City in order to view the recently restored tomb of Jesus in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. Restoration was previously carried out on the Tomb, considered to be one of the most sacred Christian sites, in 1810. The cost of the renovation is believed to have been $3.5 million, raised by the representatives of three churches including Theophilos lll, the Greek Orthodox patriarch, Francesco Patton, the Custos of the Holy Land and Nourhan Manougian, the Armenian apostolic patriarch.
The newly polished and refurbished tomb, where Jesus is said to have been buried following his crucifixion, was revealed during a ceremony after a team of 50 experts from the National Technical University of Athens spent nine months detailing the Edicule, located above the tomb’s chamber.
Franciscan Father Francesco Patton, Custos of the Holy Land, said it was “providential coincidence” that this year, as the Edicule is restored, all the Christian denominations celebrate Easter on the same date. It was also fitting, he said, that it was around the Church of the Holy Sepulcher that the churches regained a closer relationship.
Armenian Patriarch Nourhan Manougian took the opportunity to mention the three other denominations with a presence in the church — the Assyrian Orthodox, the Ethiopian Orthodox and the Coptic Orthodox. He asked that the Anglican and Russian Orthodox churches be allowed to offer their holy liturgy at the Edicule once a year, after Easter.
The Greek Orthodox Patriarch Theophilos lll said “For the first time in over two centuries, this sacred Edicule has been restored,” Theophilos. “This is not only a gift to our Holy Land, but to the whole world.”