1,500 Year Old Church gets New Roof

In Bethlehem, the Church of the Nativity, (built over a cave) in the town Jesus was born in, will be getting a new roof. The Palestinian government initiated the renovations, getting the 3 Christian churches that inhabit the building to agree on the repairs.

Funding is being provided by the Western backed Palestinian Authority and international donors. The roof repair is estimated to cost about $2 million, and the overall cost of the renovation at about $15 million.

Water Damage

The roof will be the first part of the church to be renovated. Iron beams precariously held overhead and ancient wooden beams that are rotting and crumbling are the most urgent repairs. Water has been entering the building, causing more decay and ruining priceless 12th century paintings and mosaics.

Roman Catholics, Armenian Orthodox and Greek Orthodox Christian churches share the 1,500 year old building. In traditional practice, which ever group pays for and makes the repairs, that area then belongs to them. This behavior has kept the church in poor condition for centuries. No church willing to give up any section to another.

Centuries with No Renovations

No major repairs have been made to the Church of the Nativity in more than 150 years. The dire state of the church roof prompted the Palestinian government to step in and initiate the renovations while allowing the 3 inhabiting churches to keep their section of the church and their honor.

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