The Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem is getting a long overdue makeover – a makeover almost 500 years in the making.
Ever since 1555, a marble stone has covered the place where tradition tells us Christ was buried for three days. Today, restoration teams are hard at work removing the material from the Church to expose the original rock slab where Christ’s body lay.
Tradition holds that Christ was crucified and laid in a tomb hewn from rock sometime between 30 and 33 A.D.
“They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ” Then they remembered his words.” (Luke 24: 2-8).
The site was first discovered by Saint Helena in 326 AD. Currently the shrine is maintained by six different groups. These groups include the Greek Orthodox Church, the Roman Catholic Church, the Armenian Orthodox Church, the Coptic Church, the Ethiopian Orthodox Church and the Syriac community.
National Geographic journalist Kristin Romney writes, “The National Geographic Society, with the blessing of the Greek Patriarch of Jerusalem and the other religious communities, formed a strategic alliance with the National Technical University of Athens for cultural heritage preservation. For an exclusive look at the restoration project, watch Explorer on National Geographic Channel, coming in November.”