Bethlehem’s Nativity Church removed from UNESCO endangered list

Agence France-Presse
UNESCO notes the high-quality work of Church and Palestinian officials in restoring 'roof, exterior facades, mosaics and doors'

TREASURE. A view of a stained glass window at the Church of the Nativity in the West Bank city of Bethlehem on July 2, 2019. Photo by Ahmad Gharabli/AFP

BETHLEHEM, Palestinian Territories – Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity, built on the site where Christians believe Jesus was born, was removed from UNESCO’s list of endangered world heritage sites Tuesday, July 2, following restorations there.

The church was named a UNESCO world heritage site in 2012 and placed on its endangered list the same year due to its poor condition.

Church and Palestinian officials have since overseen high-quality work restoring “roof, exterior facades, mosaics and doors,” UNESCO said in a statement.

A previous plan of concern to UNESCO to dig a tunnel underneath Manger Square, in front of the church, was also abandoned, it said.

The committee reached the decision to remove it from the endangered list during a meeting in Baku, which began on June 30 and continues until July 10, it said in a statement.

The Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox and Armenian churches share custody of the site located in the city which is today in the Israeli-occupied West Bank under Palestinian Authority control.

An initial church was built there in the fourth century AD.

It was replaced with a new structure in the sixth century but floor mosaics from the original church remain. Later alterations were made to the church.

During the Christmas season, pilgrims from around the world visit the church and the grotto within it believed to be Jesus’s birthplace. –