Last Update: 15:42
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is in Jerusalem for the completion of the restoration of the tomb of Jesus, which is ready to receive worshippers for Easter.
A Greek restoration team from the National Technical University of Athens is responsible for the historic renovation of the Edicule, the shrine that tradition says houses the cave where Jesus was buried and rose to heaven.
According to an AP report, the team stripped the stone slabs from the shrine’s façade and patched up the internal masonry of the shrine, injecting it with tubes of grout for reinforcement. Each stone slab was cleaned of candle soot and pigeon droppings, then put back in place. Titanium bolts were inserted into the structure for reinforcement, and frescos and the shrine’s painted dome were given a face-lift.
During the restoration process, some interesting discoveries were made. Inside the inner sanctum of the shrine, the burial chamber of Jesus, the restorers found an old marble layer covering the bedrock where Jesus’ body is said to have been placed.
Below the outer marble layer was a white rose marble slab engraved with a cross, which the team believes is dated to the late period of the Crusades, in 14th century. Beneath that marble slab there was an even older, grey marble slab protecting the bedrock, and mortar on the slab dates to the 4th century, the time when Roman Emperor Constantine ordered the Church of the Holy Sepulcher built.
The team also cut a small window from the shrine’s marble walls for pilgrims to see — for the first time — the bare stone of the ancient burial cave.
“When I was informed about this great work, I saw as a major challenge to maintain this monument and symbol,” the Greek prime minister said, “and I am doubly proud as a representative of the Greek state and as a graduate of the National Technical University of Athens.”
“The NTUA completed a historical project. It is a support project and a promotion of the Holy Sepulcher and its radiant message,” Tsipras added.
Earlier, the Greek prime minister exchanged gifts with Patriarch Theophilos and met with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. He attended the handover ceremony of the maintenance, protection and restoration of the Holy Sepulcher.