For centuries the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, birthplace of Jesus, has slowly fallen into great disrepair. Priceless mosaics were covered in dirt and grime. Some had been plastered over. The roof leaked every time it rained, further leading to the deterioration of the artwork in the church’s interior. In 2013 the Palestinian Authority provided the initial funding to begin to restore the church. The President of the PA, Mahmoud Abbas, encouraged the work to begin even though all the money needed was not in hand. He said, “Even if you don’t have all the money to go ahead, start. This is a holy place and money will come.”
Fortunately it has come, from private donors in Palestine, the Roman Catholic, the Armenian & the Greek Orthodox churches and from folks in various other nations. They have now finished an initial repair over the last two years. The first phase of repairs has cost 8 million dollars. But works of art decorating the church are once again visible and beautiful.
During the first phase a lost icon has been recovered. Unknown for centuries because it had been covered over with plaster. The icon was found near a window in the church. It is a mosaic made with brass, silver, shells and stones. Now completely restored, no photos of the icon have been released. It is also not yet available for public viewing.
To completely restore the church and bring it to a state of full repair will take an additional 11 million dollars. The project is important to the Palestinian people as it is part of their story, a treasure of their heritage.
The original story and the photos are from the Times of Israel.