It had never happened before. The tomb of the Holy Sepulcher has been finally restored after 10 months of work.
For the inauguration, the chairs are arranged in a circle, divided by sector, according to the various denominations: Greek Orthodox, the sector of the Latin Catholics and that of the Armenians. The chairs are divided by sector, but for once they are “all together around the center of our faith and our hope.” This is what strikes most Fr. David, Secretary of the Custody of the Holy Land.
And it is the main reason for which today’s event is truly unique: the restoration has been the result of an unexpected agreement between Greek Orthodox, Catholics and Armenian. Therefore the technical interventions are of great value since they were necessary; but there is much more.
This is why in his speech, the Custos of the Holy Land, Father Francesco Patton, is keen to stress the symbolic value of the event, precisely the unity that has come about, but also its spiritual value. “It has been a restoration of the most important site for all of Christianity, the key place for us to interpret our life and our history”, he explains.
Before and after him the Greek Orthodox Patriarch Theophilus III and the Armenian Patriarch Nourhan Manougian say the same. The restoration “is a gift to the city of Jerusalem and to the whole world,” says Theophilus III, a physical gift, both symbolic and spiritual.
Besides, this is the main mission of the Franciscan friars of the Custody of the Holy Land: the preservation of the Holy Places to make them accessible to the thousands of pilgrims who flock by every day, in the Holy Sepulcher, as in other places.
This preservation work has great value, as this event shows. Alongside the friars we also want to continue as Association pro Terra Sancta, to work for it.
“And our thanks and our gratitude go especially to the Lord God Almighty, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, who inspires and fulfills every good work. Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Here”. Fr. Francesco Patton, Custos of the Holy Land