Inside the church

Actually, the roof has not undergone major repairs in more than 500 years, reports Robert Berger of the Voice of America, “because of a feud among the three Christian denominations that control the church — the Catholics, Greek Orthodox and Armenians. But in the spirit of goodwill for Christmas, they put their differences aside.”

However, such a project is more archeology than carpentry. That’s why

a Canadian aeronautical engineer and digital imaging expert Sorin Busuioc has been brought in.

“It’s a very, very special site. It’s famous — and I’m not speaking just about Christianity here, but world heritage. It’s extraordinary,” he told Randy Boswell of the Canadian daily National Post.

An original church at the site, built by the Roman emperor Constantine I in 330 A.D., was destroyed 200 years later. The existing church was erected in its place.

A damaged mosaic inside the church

“Located on the spot said to be the birthplace of Jesus Christ, the Church of the Nativity is one of the most sacred Christian sites in the world,” the U.S.-based World Monuments Fund stated in 2008, when it placed the deteriorating church on its annual watch list of globally endangered heritage sites.