BETHLEHEM, Occupied Palestine: It was hidden for decades at the church on the site where Jesus is believed to have been born until conservationists uncovered it – an ancient mosaic of an angel. Since 2013, Italian restorers have been working with the Palestinian government in a mammoth effort to restore Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity – built on the site where Christians believe Jesus was born.
The roof and windows have been restored and mosaics that had become barely visible over centuries have been painstakingly brought back to full color, one tiny tile at a time.
In the course of the work they were surprised to uncover an angel that had been hidden under plaster for decades.
With thermal cameras, similar to the night-vision gear used by the military, they scanned the walls to see if there was anything behind them, said Giammarco Piacenti – CEO of the Piacenti restoration company, which is leading the work.
“In that part it was completely different,” he told AFP. “You could see the angel. We said, ‘What is this? It can’t be an angel.’”
After peeling back the plaster they uncovered the mosaic, bringing the number of angels in the church to seven.
Its outstretched hand is pointing in the direction of the cave where the founder of Christianity is believed to have been born.
The discovery has already spawned a myth after the excavator who discovered it – who happened to be Piacenti’s niece – became pregnant shortly afterwards.
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