A Royal benefaction to restore the Tomb of Christ
AMMAN / JERUSALEM – On April 10, 2016, His Majesty King Abdullah II of Jordan announced by royal edict his decision to fund the restoration of the Tomb of Christ in the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.
The Royal Court informed the Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem of the “makruma” (Royal Benefaction) in a letter addressed to His Beatitude Theophilos III on April 10. The Orthodox Patriarch praised the generosity of King Abdullah, remembering how His Majesty has always been and will remain the faithful guardian and custodian of Muslim and Christian Holy Places of Jerusalem.
During Holy Week, the Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem and the Custody of the Holy Land issued the decision that the Tomb of Christ, in the Basilica of the Resurrection in Jerusalem, would be restored soon after the Orthodox Easter solemnities. A scientific study conducted previously, showed that the place has serious moisture problems related to the “condensation of the breath of visitors,” and also oxidation due to candle smoke.
The restoration is possible thanks to an agreement reached between the three main denominations (Greek Orthodox, Latin and Armenian) that coexist in the Basilica.
Bishop William Shomali, Latin Patriarchal Vicar in Jerusalem, warmly welcomed the decision of King Abdullah: “This is excellent news, news of a highly symbolic character, since the Holy Sepulchre is the most sacred place for Christians of all confessions. This decision shows the kindness of the King towards Christians and his constant concern to preserve the heritage of Christianity, including his role as guarantor of the Holy Places, Christian and Muslim, Jerusalem, according to the Wadi Araba agreement.”
The recent “makruma” or royal edict is further evidence of the commitment of King Abdullah to the Christian and Muslim sites of the thrice holy city. The Temple Mount, “Haram al-Sharif,” where access is governed by a status quo that has placed it under Jordanian jurisdiction and administration of the Waqf of Jerusalem, is also symbolic of the role of Jordan in the protection of the Holy Places.
The part of the Holy Sepulcher that will be restored is the aedicule, which is the place of burial and resurrection of Christ. This are remained untouched since 1947, when the British put in place steel support beams to start a restoration that never took place. The historic resumption, at the personal expense of His Majesty, will be entrusted to a Greek team led by Professor Antonia Moropoulou of the National Technical University of Athens.