Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Aleteia
Wednesday 12 May |
Saint of the Day: St. Pancras
home iconNews
line break icon

Palestinians Complete First Stage of Restoration of Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity

Tamer B Shabaneh CC

John Burger - published on 02/18/16 - updated on 06/07/17

"Labor of love" is in stark contrast to Islamic State's destruction of churches in Iraq and Syria

While radical Islamists are destroying churches and archaeological treasures in Iraq and Syria, Muslim Palestinians have unveiled the first stage of a restoration of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.

ABC News reported that Palestinian experts spent “two years of painstaking work” in restoring the church, which marks the traditional birthplace of Jesus Christ:

The project, partially funded by the Palestinians and conducted by a team of Palestinian and international experts, is the biggest restoration at the iconic church in some 600 years. The removal of centuries of dust has left Crusader-era mosaics sparkling in sunlight filtering through brand-new windows. Structural repairs on the fragile rooftop and windows have been completed and art treasures have been returned to their delicate elegance.

Palestinians, who are overwhelmingly Muslim but include many Christians as well, consider the church a national treasure and one of their most visited tourist sites, ABC noted. President Mahmoud Abbas has been actively involved in the labor of love, the news outlet added.

ABC provided more background on the project:

The Church of the Nativity, located in the biblical West Bank town of Bethlehem, was built by St. Helena in the fourth century over the grotto where the Virgin Mary is said to have given birth to Jesus. Despite its spiritual significance, the church was neglected for centuries and is listed as endangered by UNESCO, the United Nations cultural agency. Until two years ago, rain leaked through the severely damaged rooftop, threatening to harm priceless artworks inside. Then, in 2013, the Palestinian Authority, the internationally backed self-rule government, took the lead in financing the restoration. The rest has come from the Palestinian private sector, the Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox and Armenian churches and other countries. Al-Bandak said nearly eight million dollars has already been spent. The renovation is being conducted by a joint team of engineers, restoration experts and workers — Palestinians as well as Italians from “Piacenti,” a firm that specializes in the renovation of historical sites and has worked on dozens of villas, palaces, churches and monasteries in Italy and Russia … Mimmo Nucatolo, who heads the Italian team restoring the mosaics, called the gold, green and pastel artworks “a unique example” made by skilled mosaicists at the end of the Crusader period. But he said that after centuries of neglect, the mosaics were in such a bad state that they almost disappeared from sight.  
Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read Aleteia.org every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...




Top 10
1
Eric Clapton, Luciano Pavarotti, East London Gospel Choir
J-P Mauro
Hear Clapton and Pavarotti sing a prayer to the “Holy Mothe...
2
SAINTS
Meg Hunter-Kilmer
Saints to help if Mother’s Day is hard
3
MOTHER OF ASIA - TOWER OF PEACE
J-P Mauro
Philippines finishes construction of largest Marian statue in the...
4
MOTHER SHORT FILM
Zoe Romanowsky
Moving 1-minute film about motherhood will touch your heart
5
FIRST LOOK
Sarah Robsdottir
Dad’s priceless reaction to newborn goes viral
6
PRAY
Philip Kosloski
3 Signs of a spiritual attack on your soul
7
I.Media for Aleteia
These 30 shrines will lead the Rosary Relay for end of the pandem...
See More
Newsletter
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.