Restorers have said there is a “very real risk” that the shrine built over Jesus’s tomb may collapse.
Their warning came just as the structure was newly opened to the public after a year-long renovation.
Antonia Moropoulou, chief scientific supervisor at the National Technical University of Athens, which completed the renovation, said: “When it fails, the failure will not be a slow process, but catastrophic.” She told the National Geographic that the project had revealed the shrine was built on unstable remnants of earlier buildings.
The Edicule (Latin for “little house”) is a small structure inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. It encloses the remains of a cave venerated since at least the fourth-century AD as the tomb of Christ.
The 200-year-old Edicule was renovated for the first time after Israeli authorities deemed it unsafe and leaders from the three churches that share custody of the church came to an agreement for the work to proceed. Last week the structure was inaugurated in an ecumenical ceremony led by representatives of the Catholic, Greek Orthodox, and Armenian churches, including Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople. Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, apostolic administrator of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, said some believed the churches could not surmount their centuries-old disagreement.
“With God nothing is impossible,” he said. “This apparent mission impossible became possible because we allowed God to enlighten our thoughts and our eyes and our relations.”
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