Italian Company Piacenti Restores Church Marking Where Jesus Was Born

Thu, 09/26/2013 - 06:00

Italian company Piacenti Spa, based in Prato, Tuscany, is to restore Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity, reports the ‘Vatican Insider’. The Church of the Nativity is the oldest church in the Holy Land. It is considered to be located over the cave where Jesus was born. The Roman emperor Constantine the Great and his mother, Saint Helena, commissioned the church in 327 AD. The original basilica was completed in 339 but destroyed by fire in the sixth century. A new basilica was built in 565, emulating the architectural style of the original. It has undergone several additions since. The church’s wooden roof needs repairing most urgently because it leaks. In 2008, the World Monuments Fund placed the basilica on the Watch List of the 100 Most Endangered Sites. In 2012, the church became the first UNESCO World Heritage Site in Palestine but it was placed immediately on the UNESCO List of World Heritage in Danger because of the leaks. The University of Ferarra led an Italian consortium of research centres that carried out the preliminary scientific study. The ‘Vatican Insider’ reports that Tuscan company Piacenti was chosen to carry out the restoration work, because of its expertise in restoring wooden structures. Piacenti will restore the church roof and windows, as well as columns, mosaics and walls damaged by the leaks. The church is administered by the Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox and Armenian Apostolic authorities. It is estimated that the restoration work will cost $2,600,000. Palestinian private funds and sponsors will cover half of the costs, and countries including the Vatican, Hungary, France, Russia and Greece pay the rest.