Renovating the tomb of Jesus

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The Church of the Holy Sepulchre in the Old City of Jerusalem contains two of the holiest sites in Christianity: the spot where the cross was raised, and what’s believed to be the tomb of Jesus. Now, for the first time in 200 years, the site will undergo much-needed renovations.

The site is jointly controlled by various Christian denominations, with the Roman Catholics having one wing, the Armenian Orthodox another, the Syriacs and the Russian Orthodox Church laying claim to another. Under a set of agreements known as the Status Quo, each of the orders must agree to any change to Church property — leading to situations such as the Immovable Ladder, which has stayed in one place for hundreds of years.

So naturally, it’s a pretty big deal that the Church is now undergoing renovations. In fact, it’s the first time it’s happened in 200 years. According to AP, the work, which began June 6, was made possible by a rare agreement among Roman Catholics, Greek Orthodox and Armenians, and is a reflection of the dire need for such work. Last year, the Israeli police briefly shut down the building after antiquities experts deemed it unsafe.