He was instrumental in preserving the site of Christ’s baptism in Jordan, and has now reportedly stepped in to help preserve another sacred Christian site.
“His Majesty King Abdullah II has issued a Royal Benefaction (makruma) to provide for the restoration of Jesus’ Tomb in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, at His Majesty’s personal expense.” The news was announced by Jordanian press agency Petra, which says that the Hashemite Court sent an official letter to the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, Theophilos III. It will therefore be a Muslim sovereign and direct descendant of the Prophet Muhammad who will foot part of the bill for the restoration of the niche in the Holy Sepulchre, the place of Jesus’ burial and resurrection in Jerusalem, which has, for centuries, been the most venerated Christian shrine in the world.
The restoration project was announced two weeks ago – the day before Easter for the western world – by the three Christian denominations which for historic reasons hold joint jurisdiction of Jerusalem’s most important church: the Greek Orthodox, the Latins (represented by the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land) and the Armenians. Restoration work is needed because of the progressive alteration of the mortars as a result of condensed moisture from the breath of thousands of pilgrims and candle smoke. The work is based on a specific project carried out by the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA) which all parties agree on: the work should take eight months, with completion expected at the start of 2017. Until yesterday, there had been talk about a restoration project being financed by the three denominations, public contributions disbursed by the Greek government and private benefactors.
The announcement from Amman now changes the game and was immediately and warmly welcomed by Patriarch Theophilos III who is head of the largest Christian community in the Holy Land.