- Jun 2, 2020
Bethlehem residents returned to the Church of the Nativity as the holy site opened to visitors May 26 after being closed since March because of the COVID-19 pandemic. But amid the joy was a feeling of uncertainty about their economic future, as pilgrims and tourists are not yet able to return.
The Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem will open on Sunday for the first time in two months.
A handful of Eastern Orthodox priests held mass for the Christian holiday of Easter on Sunday in an empty Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem due to restrictions in place to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.
For Orthodox Christians, this is normally a time of reflection and mourning followed by joyful release, of centuries-old ceremonies steeped in symbolism and tradition. But this year, Easter — by far the most significant religious holiday for the world’s roughly 300 million Orthodox — has essentially been cancelled.
Israel is working with foreign governments and Orthodox Christian leaders in the Holy Land to make sure that one of their most ancient and mysterious rituals — the Holy Fire ceremony — is not extinguished by the coronavirus outbreak, officials said Friday.
Following the successful cooperation on the 2016 restoration of the Edicule in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the leaders of the three churches who serve as guardians of the holy site have signed an agreement to continue with restorations, this time on the pavement and foundations around the tomb.