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Jordan’s king to help pay for facelift at Jesus’s tomb

Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulcher to stay open during renovation, set to begin next month and run through 2017

Sue Surkes is The Times of Israel's environment reporter.

Orthodox Christians hold candles as worshipers gather around the Edicule at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, traditionally believed to be the burial place of Jesus Christ, during the ceremony of the Holy Fire in Jerusalem's Old City, April 7, 2007. (Nati Shohat /Flash90)
Orthodox Christians hold candles as worshipers gather around the Edicule at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, traditionally believed to be the burial place of Jesus Christ, during the ceremony of the Holy Fire in Jerusalem's Old City, April 7, 2007. (Nati Shohat /Flash90)

Jordan’s King Abdullah is to contribute an unspecified amount towards the upcoming renovation of Jesus’s Tomb in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the Jordan Times reported.

The work is expected to begin in May and to be completed in early 2017. The site will remain open to visitors during the refurbishment.

The king’s decision to donate “at His Majesty’s personal expense” was conveyed in a letter from the Royal Hashemite Court to the Greek Orthodox Patriarch in Jerusalem, Theophilos III.

According to the Jordanian news agency Petra, Theophilos III signed an agreement with the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA) in March to restore the tomb — where Jesus is said to have been buried before his resurrection — in cooperation with the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem and the Franciscan missionaries in the Holy Land.

File: Christian Orthodox worshipers hold up candles lit from the "Holy Fire" as thousands gather in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem’s Old City, on April 11, 2015. (photo credit: AFP/Ahmad Gharabli)
File: Christian Orthodox worshipers hold up candles lit from the ‘Holy Fire’ as thousands gather in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem’s Old City, on April 11, 2015. (AFP/Ahmad Gharabli)

The shrine, several meters tall and standing under the church’s dome, has for decades been held together by a metal frame.

Its marble slabs have been weakened over the years in part by daily visits by thousands of pilgrims and tourists.

It will be painstakingly dismantled and rebuilt during eight months of restoration work, said the Custody of the Holy Land, which oversees Roman Catholic properties in the area.

Broken or fragile parts will be replaced while marble slabs that can be preserved will be cleaned, and the structure supporting them will be reinforced.

File: King Abdullah II of Jordan, February 3, 2015, in Washington, DC. (AFP/Brendan Smialowski)
King Abdullah II of Jordan in Washington, DC, on February 3, 2015 (AFP/Brendan Smialowski, File)

The shrine was built in the early 19th century over the site of the cave where Jesus is believed to have been buried.

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