“What was critical in this phase was the roof,” Busuioc told the Canadian agency Postmedia News. “It looks fragile, but it still supported us, as we had to go directly on the roof to collect data. But this is very critical, and it’s the first action. Replacing the roof should start next year.”

The building has an inspiring, “penetrating spirit,” he said.

“He particularly recalls round-the-clock shifts with his colleagues,” writes Boswell, “and sometimes having ‘the fortunate privilege to start the day at sunrise’ — to schedule as much of the scanning as possible around the needs of the clergy and pilgrims.”

He called pending two weeks, day and night, at the site “a great honor.”

Renovations will cost $10 to $15 million and will be funded by the Palestinian government and international donors, according to Palestinian Tourism Minister Khouloud Daibes.

The Church of the Nativity is the Palestinian Authority’s top tourist attraction, drawing around 2 million visitors a year.