Something incredible happened recently in Jerusalem.
The crypt believed to be the tomb where Jesus was buried has been opened for the first time in centuries.
"We saw where Jesus Christ was laid down," said Father Isidoros Fakitsas, the superior of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate. "Before, nobody has." Or at least nobody alive today. "We have the history, the tradition. Now we saw with our own eyes the actual burial place of Jesus Christ."
This spot is believed to be the spot where Jesus was buried, after crucifixion but before resurrection. There has been a large shrine built around it and it was opened due to renovations to the site. The crew spent 60 hours collection samples, taking pictures, and reinforcing the structure before closing it back up. Only a handful of people, including priests, monks, scientists, and workers, were able to look inside before the tomb was once again sealed.
As for why the site had to be opened in the first place, rain water has deteriorated most of the mortar over hundreds of years. The iron bars have also been corroded and will be replaced by titanium. At first, there were no plans to open the tomb itself, however it was decided that entering the tomb was necessary to ensure no leakage was getting inside.
The team felt the pressure. "We had to be very careful," said one of the workers. "It was not just a tomb we had to open. It was the tomb of Jesus Christ that is a symbol for all of Christianity — and not only for them but for other religions."
The shrine has become a gathering place for many religions over hundreds of years. It can see as many as 5,000 people a day.
There are still months of work to be done for the shrine to be completely renovated. But the work will be worth it.
"It will last many, many years," the workers said. "We will succeed if after 200 or 500 years somebody will come back to restore our work."