News04 February 2016
TIKA contributes to the Church of the Nativity’s restoration
Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA) contributed to the fund allocated to the restoration of the Church of the Nativity, which is believed to be the birthplace of Prophet Jesus Christ by the Christians, in Bethlehem, Palestine.
The initial restoration had been made at the Ottoman Era
Church of the Nativity, established by the Roman Empire on 327 AD upon the birthplace of Jesus Christ, as believed by the Christians, was first renovated under the Ottoman rule. For the maintenance and repair of the Church, an international restoration committee was founded to work in collaboration with Greek Orthodox Patriarchy in Jerusalem, Terra Santa Custody of the Holy Land (Catholic Church) and Armenian Orthodox Patriarchy and the committee started the restoration through fund raised from the donor countries.
TIKA contributed to International Restoration Committee to help restore Church of the Nativity with the aim to protect the cultural wealth of Jerusalem as against the violent acts to devastate the heritage of thousands of years which were committed under the ideology of single religion and single nation in Jerusalem.
According to the Bible, Prophet Jesus Christ was born in a cave in Bethlehem. The Church of the Nativity, which was established onto these grounds 300 years later, is assumed as one of the most important holy relics of the Christian world. The Church was damaged by the Israeli Army due to 200 sheltering Palestinians in 2002 despite Vatican’s several calls. Restoration work is still ongoing at the Church.
The Key of the Church was entrusted to a Muslim Family for 150 years
The Church of the Nativity has caused a rivalry between Orthodox and Catholics for hundreds of years. Suleyman the Magnificent entrusted the key of the church to Catholic priests during 1520s. The authority was later transferred to Greek Orthodox party in 1630s and the doors were opened by the Orthodox every morning until 1850s.
In 1850s, the will of the Russian and French to protect the holy places in Jerusalem put sects at the verge of conflict. Sultan Abdulmedjid Han ceased the rivalry with a decree and the key of the church was replaced in 1852. Sultan ordered that the key should be entrusted to the Huseynî , a proclaimed Muslim family in Bethlehem.
Until 2002 for 150 years, the Church was opened by the members of the Muslim family. After the siege by the Israeli army in 2002, Jerusalem Greek Patriarchy changed the locks and ended the tradition. The question of which Christian sect should hold the key still remains as a controversial subject.