Archaeology News Network – More funds needed for the restoration of the Nativity Church in Bethlehem

“Adopt a column!” This is the appeal by Ziad Al-Bandak, advisor for Christian affairs to the Palestinian President and head of the commission that is overseeing the restorations in progress at the Basilica of the Nativity in Bethlehem. New funds are needed to complete the restoration of the very ancient church which stands on Jesus’ birthplace. We are speaking about 2.5 million euro for the restoration of the fifty massive columns in the basilica, in other words, fifty thousand euro per column.

The restoration of the basilica started from the roof in September 2013, with the approval of the three Churches which are responsible for the holy building: the Greek Orthodox, the Latins (represented by the Franciscans of the Custody of the Holy land) and the Armenians. In addition to the roof, so far the windows, the narthex, two doors, walls and plaster and, most recently, the mosaics, have also been restored.

After the architraves and the chapters, a new site is now to open. The rows of columns that support and flank the central nave should regain their original appearance. Thirty-two of the fifty columns from the Justinian period are decorated with 12th century crusade paintings, today covered by centuries of encrustations. From underneath the layers, portraits of Western and Eastern saints accompany the steps of the pilgrim to the presbytery.

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