Here is a bit of good news, amidst all of the bad we hear about. The Church of the Nativity is undergoing badly needed repairs. The effort is being overseen by a professional restorer from Italy who has extensive experience repairing churches. He brought along with him a team of workers, and specialized scaffolding.
More than five years in the planning and researching, the restoration of the church’s wooden beams and lead roof and its 38 windows represents the beginning of an ambitious project, said engineer Imad Nasser, technical representative of the Palestinian Authority’s national committee for the restoration of the Church of the Nativity. Nasser said that, two years ago, it was estimated that the repairs would cost $15 million, not including the construction management fees.
*The workers have already removed the wooden frames of many of the 50-year-old windows, some of which are pocked with bullet holes received during the intifada, when Palestinian gunmen holed up at the church and Israeli soldiers laid siege. The window frames will be replaced with Cyprus wood, and special glass that blocks ultraviolet light will be used for the windows to further protect the frescos and mosaics inside from the harsh Middle Eastern sun, said Piacenti.
The current windows are machine made and “are not good material,” Piacenti said, picking away at some of the rotting wood from one of the removed window frames. “But the wooden beams (from the ceiling) are from around the 1400s, from the time of Columbus, from … the Alps near Venice.” *
The roof was last repaired 200 years ago and is the focus of attention right now. Most of the work is being done at night, to minimize interference with worship.