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.
|Restorers at work in Bethlehem's Nativity Church [Credit: ANSA]|
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.
|Two rows of columns in the Basilica of the Nativity in Bethlehem [Credit: M.A.B./CTS]|
To date, some 9 million euro have been raised, donated by numerous governments and international subjects (including Italy, France, Hungary, the Holy See, Russia, Spain, Greece, Poland, the Palestinian National Authority) but also private citizens. To complete the work, another two years and seven million euro are needed.
The restoration has allowed bringing to the light new traces from the times of Constantine who in the fourth century built a first basilica, which was later destroyed. They are wooden materials, reused and decorated, found a few days ago inside the architraves of Justinian, but this discovery has yet to be confirmed by the carbon 14 dating method.
Since 2012 the Basilica of the Nativity has been recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site
Source: Terrasanta.net [June 17, 2016]