Visitors and pilgrims to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem’s Old City can now experience the restored and consolidated Aedicule at the heart of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, which houses the Tomb of Christ. This has been done after nearly a year of intensive restoration and consolidation of the whole structure to prevent possible seismic movements and to preserve the tomb in the event an earthquake in the region, like the one that struck the country in 1927 that weakened the Aedicule. The restoration was headed by a team from the National Technical University of Athens.
The limestone and marble structure known as the Aedicule stands at the centre of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem, a 12th-century building which stands on fourth-century remains. The shrine needed urgent attention after years of exposure to environmental factors like water, humidity and candle smoke.
For the first time since the status quo of 1857, an agreement was finally reached between the Orthodox, Armenians and Franciscan communities who share custody of the Basilica, which was essential to commence the restoration work last year. The last work of consolidation of the Anastasis dates back to those devised by the British in 1947, who had been unable to complete the restoration because there was no agreement between the three Christian communities.
In October 2016, the restoration team entered the inner sanctum of the shrine, which the faithful revere as the burial chamber of Jesus, and slid open an old marble layer covering the bedrock where Jesus’ body is said to have been placed. They discovered two marble layers, one dated to the late Crusader period of the 14th century, and another older, grey marble slab protecting the bedrock. Mortar on the slab was found to date back to the fourth century, when the church was built by order of the Roman Emperor Constantine.
Visitors and pilgrims to the site can now see, for the first time, the bare stone of the ancient burial cave through a small window that has been cut in the marble walls of the shrine.