Catholic World News

Experts fear basilica of the Holy Sepulchre could collapse

March 24, 2017

While Christians in Jerusalem celebrated the re-opening of the Edicule—the shrine in side the basilica of the Holy Sepulchre on the site of Jesus’ tomb—experts cautioned that the entire building urgently needs structural work to prevent a “catastrophic” collapse.

The Edicule was re-opened after extensive renovations, which were accomplished through a cooperative effort by the different Christian churches that share responsibility for the basilica. [See today’s separate CWN headline story.] But the celebration was muted because of the daunting news about the need for a larger renovation project.

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre was built on the ruins of previous churches, which dated back to the time of the Emperor Constantine. The ground underneath the current foundation consists of shifting rubble, laced with ancient tunnels. Experts fear that a “significant structural failure” could devastate the entire building. They warn that the danger is not one of slow deterioration but of sudden collapse.

The task of shoring up the basilica is estimated as a €6 million ($6.5 million) project, which could be complicated by the archeological importance of the material under the current building. The Holy See has already pledged $500,000 to the project.


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  • Posted by: TheJournalist64 - Mar. 26, 2017 6:06 AM ET USA

    When we made pilgrimage to the Holy Sepulcher in 2005, I commented on the age and nineteenth-century facilities of the Basilica, and wondered about some of the structure. Fixing the problem involves multiple jurisdictions, particularly religious ones. They will have to get their act together or in our lifetimes we may see a catastrophe.