A rare cooperative venture is underway to repair the roof, leaky windows and 1,500-year-old wooden beams at The Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, according to USA Today.
Thanks to work now going on, a recent storm inflicted only minor damage on the church built at the site where Christians believe Jesus was born.
“There were still leaks, but thanks to the scaffolding that was erected for the restoration work, the damage was controlled,” said the Rev. Pierbattista Pizzaballa, custodian of the Holy Land for the Roman Catholic Church.
In what some are calling the biggest miracle in Bethlehem since the birth of Jesus, the three churches that share responsibility for the Nativity church put aside centuries of tense relations this year to collaborate on the effort.
Rainwater has been damaging the church’s infrastructure and artwork for more than a century, but infighting over which church has authority prevented a resolution.
The Palestinian Authority persuaded the Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox and Apostolic Armenian churches to sign an agreement permitting the restoration of the church, whose basilica was built by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian about 600 A.D. The original Church of the Nativity, built in 330 A.D. by the Roman Emperor Constantine, was mostly destroyed 200 years later. The existing church was built on the same site.
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