Corvallis Gazette-Times – Italian firm restoring Nativity Church: Like touching heaven

ROME (AP) — The Italian firm restoring one of Christianity’s holiest sites — the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem — says it’s more than halfway finished with the 14 million-euro project, which has already uncovered a Crusades-era mosaic angel hidden under plaster.

Piacenti SpA, a family-run conservation firm from the Tuscan town of Prato, won the contract to restore the biblical place of Jesus’ birth and began work in 2013 alongside Palestinian workers.

The overhaul became necessary after UNESCO listed the site as endangered, with its leaky roof, rotting wood beams and centuries of built-up candle wax that blackened the brilliant mosaics ringing the interior.

Piacenti CEO Giammarco Piacenti said Monday the work is among the most satisfying of the restorers’ careers because they are “touching heaven with their fingers.”

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