Restoration on the Nativity: new funds coming in

(FMC) A contribution of half a million dollars is coming in to fund the restoration of the Basilica of the Nativity in Bethlehem. Allocating the funds is the Pontifical Mission for Palestine that on February 20, signed an agreement with the Palestinian National Authority that will be in charge of the work.
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Regional Director Pontifical Mission for Palestine and Israel 
“Keeping in mind the millions and millions of pilgrims and tourists who pass through the church on an annual basis, I think we have an obligation to secure the church during the work, and secondly to make it a dignified place of prayer, and that is important given its historical significance.” 

The donation by this ecclesial organization, founded by Pius XII in 1949 to help the Palestinian population, comes a few months before Pope Francis’ visit to Bethlehem. Begun during the month of September, the restoration work is currently uniquely structural and is aimed at helping to restore the roof, replace the thirty-eight windows in the upper part of the church and recondition the drainage system for rainwater.
Fifteen Italian experts, along with Arab craftsmen are working to bring this phase of the project to a close by September 2014

Community Development Group – In charge of Restoration Project 
“During the design phase, the documents for the challenge were prepared according to UNESCO and ICOMOS guidelines. As we all know, it is a historic site and we cannot change anything. We have just replaced the most damaged parts and even these replacements must be made with great care, using ancient wood, coming from Italy.” 

A work commissioned by the Palestinian National Authority and carried out with the agreement of the three Christian communities present in the Basilica: the Custody of the Holy Land, the Greek Orthodox and the Armenians.

Pres. Restoration Committee, Basilica of the Nativity
“The cooperation is more than excellent. They are collaborating with us very well. They open the church for us for hours, until midnight and beyond, in order to allow the craftsmen to work in good conditions, when there are no tourists or pilgrims in the church. And they are also finding solutions to all problems to allowing us to proceed as quickly as possible with the restoration process” 

Confident in the timely completion of this first phase of restoration work, they are already beginning to think about the future: a general restoration project for the Basilica of the Nativity that could last, if the funds are raised, between four and six years.

Pres. Restoration Committee, Basilica of the Nativity
“The total amount needed for the restoration of the whole church, including things that have not yet been discovered, is between 18 and 20 million Euros. So far, we have about 5 million Euros. This is enough for the roof, the windows, the mosaics, the entrance to the Basilica and the external structure. But it is not enough for other important elements of the total project. We hope to raise enough funds for this.”