The Aedicule of the Holy Sepulchre was solemnly inaugurated on 22 March 2017 after a year of restoration by an ecumenical ceremony attended by representatives of the Orthodox, Armenian and Roman Catholic Churches. It was presided by the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, in the presence of Patriarch Theophilos III of Jerusalem, the Armenian Apostolic Patriarch Nourhan Manougian and other Christian religious leaders, as well as diplomats and political leaders like Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and the representatives of the Kingdom of Jordan, the State of Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
Under the current status quo, only the Orthodox, Armenian and Roman-Catholic Churches can celebrate services in the Holy Sepulchre basilica. The restoration work on the Tomb of Christ began less than a year ago in May 2016 to preserve the Tomb in the event of a powerful earthquake, like the one that struck the country in 1927 that weakened the Aedicule. The last work of consolidation of the Anastasis dates back to those devised by the British in 1947, who had been unable to complete the restoration because there was no agreement between the three Christian communities: Orthodox, Armenians and Franciscans who share custody of the Basilica. For the first time since the status quo of 1857, an agreement was finally reached between the three Christian communities, which was essential to commence the restoration work last year. This delicate project, which presented both technical and ecumenical challenges, was finally completed successfully. Continue reading