Church of the Holy Sepulchre closes

The closure, initially for a week, followed a meeting between Israeli police and church leaders, said Wadie Abu Nassar, spokesperson of the Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land, after the Israeli government announced tighter restrictions to curb the spread of the virus.

“The initial understanding is that this order is valid for one week, although nobody knows how long this crisis will take,” he said on Wednesday.

Adeeb Joudeh, a Palestinian whose family holds one of the keys to the church, confirmed the decision on Facebook.

The Holy Sepulchre lies in the Christian Quarter of Jerusalem’s walled Old City. A church was first built there in the 4th century under Constantine the Great, the Roman emperor who converted to Christianity.

The Greek Orthodox, Armenian Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches share custody of the building. Others, including Copts, Ethiopian and Syrian Orthodox, also hold services there.

The closure comes in the build-up to Easter, the most important festival in the Christian calendar, which Roman Catholics this year celebrate on April 12. Thousands of pilgrims and tourists would normally flock to the city, whose streets are now virtually deserted.

Read the article in The Warrnambool Standard (AAP).