REPAIR work on the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre, in Jerusalem. is to begin after Easter. This decision has at last been reached after four years of negotiations between the three Christian communities which control the Basilica.
1 he agreement on restoration does not, however, affect the stalemate over changing the timetable for use of the Basilica during Holy Week. Unless something unforseen happens. Catholic services will have to be held at the old. early. hours on Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday.
The Basilica is shared by Catholics — represented by the Franciscan Custos of the Holy Land—and by the Greek Orthodox and the dissident Armenians, Copts and Syrians. Unanimous consent of the first three communities is required for any changes affecting the Basilica and negotiations over the Holy Week services have resulted only in an impasse.
Therefore the Holy See has granted a special Indult for observance of the old hours.
The new agreement provides for repair of the main entrance and its south transept, both of which are
at 'Nestle supported by steel buttresses.
The facade to be repaired is entirely the work of the Crusaders and consists of two arched portals one of which has been walled up for 800 years--and will not be uncovered.
The foundations of the Basilica are to be tested, arches and their supporting walls will be cleaned and repointed where necessary; cracks in the vaulting are to he tilled; all original stone is to be restored to its proper place where possible.
When ancient architectural elements of the Basilica are uncovered. plans for their restoration will be submitted to the three communities before work is undertaken; and, in case of disagreement, decisions will be left to the three architects employed by the three communities.
Looking ahead . . .
Representative Robert L. F. Sikes of Florida has asked the United States Postmaster General Ii) authorise a new postage stamp related to the birth of Christ, for use during the Christmas Se.;ISCIII.