Je­sus’ tomb ope­ned for first ti­me in cen­tu­ries

Times of Suriname - - ENGELS -

JERUSALEM – Pre­ser­va­ti­on ex­perts ha­ve ope­ned for the first ti­me in at least two cen­tu­ries what Chris­tians be­lie­ve is Je­sus’s tomb in­si­de the Church of the Ho­ly Se­pul­chre in Jerusalem.

So­me of the his­to­ric work was wit­nes­sed by AFP pho­to­grap­her Ga­li Tib­bon who cap­tu­red ima­ges of the si­te be­lie­ved to con­tain the rock upon which Je­sus was laid in around 33 AD as it was un­co­ver­ed as part of on­go­ing res­tora­ti­on at the si­te. A mar­ble slab co­ve­ring the si­te, among the ho­liest in Chris­ti­a­ni­ty, was pul­led back for three days as part of both res­tora­ti­on work and ar­chae­o­lo­gi­cal ana­ly­sis, ex­perts on the sce­ne told AFP. It was the first ti­me the mar­ble had been re­mo­ved sin­ce at least 1810, when the last res­tora­ti­on work took pla­ce fol­lo­wing a fire, and pos­si­bly ear­lier, said Fa­ther Sa­mu­el Ag­hoy­an, the church’s Ar­me­ni­an su­pe­ri­or. A pain­ting of Je­sus can be seen in the nar­row area abo­ve whe­re the mar­ble slab was re­mo­ved. De­bris and ma­te­ri­al was found be­ne­ath the mar­ble and was being fur­ther stu­died, Ag­hoy­an said. “It is mo­ving in a sen­se, so­me­thing we’ve been tal­king about so ma­ny cen­tu­ries”, Ag­hoy­an told AFP. Na­ti­o­nal Ge­o­grap­hic has been do­cu­men­ting the res­tora­ti­on work which is being car­ried out by a team of Greek spe­ci­a­lists. It re­por­ted that “the ex­po­su­re of the bu­ri­al bed is gi­ving re­searchers an un­pre­ce­den­ted op­por­tu­ni­ty to stu­dy the ori­gi­nal surfa­ce of what is con­si­de­red the most sa­cred si­te in Chris­ti­a­ni­ty. A shri­ne was built in the 19th cen­tu­ry over the si­te of the ca­ve whe­re Je­sus is be­lie­ved to ha­ve been bu­ried be­fo­re his re­sur­rec­ti­on, and it is vi­si­ted by throngs of tou­rists and pil­grims each day. Ear­lier this year, a ma­jor res­tora­ti­on pro­ject be­gan on the si­te, sur­roun­ded by a struc­tu­re cal­l­ed an edi­cu­le and lo­ca­ted at the cen­tre of the church in Jerusalem’s Old Ci­ty, un­der­ne­ath its do­me. The pro­ject re­qui­red the agree­ment of the va­rious Chris­ti­an de­no­mi­na­ti­ons that sha­re the church, which al­so con­tains the area whe­re Je­sus is be­lie­ved to ha­ve been cru­ci­fied and his bo­dy anoin­ted.

The res­tora­ti­on pro­ject is ex­pec­ted to be com­ple­ted around March 2017, in ti­me for Eas­ter, and the si­te has remai­ned open to vi­si­tors for ne­ar­ly the en­ti­re ti­me, alt­hough the or­na­te edi­cu­le has been sur­roun­ded by scaf­fol­ding.

Its mar­ble slabs ha­ve wea­ke­ned over the ye­ars, cau­sed in part by the thou­sands of pe­o­p­le who vi­sit dai­ly. (AFP)

The Edi­cu­le was erec­ted abo­ve the spot whe­re Chris­ti­an tra­di­ti­on says Je­sus’ bo­dy was anoin­ted. (Pho­to: afp/ get­ty­ima­ges)

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