File - In this Friday, May 18, 2012 photo, Greek Orthodox priests hold liturgy outside the tomb of Jesus in the Holy Sepulchre church in Jerusalem. (AP Photo/Dusan Vranic)
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A team of experts has begun a historic renovation at the spot where Christians believe Jesus was buried, overcoming long-standing religious rivalries to carry out the first repairs at the site in over 200 years. The project, which began Monday, will focus on repairing, reinforcing and preserving the Edicule – the ancient chamber housing Jesus' tomb in Jerusalem's Church of the Holy Sepulchre. The church, characterized by stone staircases, dark chambers and golden decorations, is one of Christianity's holiest shrines.While the clergymen who work and pray at the church generally get along, tensions can rise.The three churches share possession of the shrine, holding prayer services at different times of the day and night, so restoring the Edicule was in everyone's interest.It is expected to take eight to 12 months, experts and church clerics said.Some of the work is expected to take place early in the morning or late at night, when the church is closed. Despite the sometimes tense relations between the denominations, the tomb served as a potent symbol of Christian unity when Pope Francis and the spiritual leader of the world's Orthodox Christians, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, prayed together there in May 2014 .
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