Mysterious Icon Found During Renovation Of Bethlehem's Church of Nativity:
At Bethlehem's Church of Nativity, the site believed by many to be the birthplace of Jesus, renovation is being conducted. Scientists have discovered an enigmatic icon said to be of "great religious and historical value."
Till now, no image of the icon or painting that was discovered in the first phase of the restoration was made public. Yet it is thought to contain "brass, silver, shells and stones".
After beginning the restoration in 2013, the experts completed the initial phase last week, according to The Times of Israel. Its delicate roof has been renovated and Crusader-era mosaics have been upgraded.
The plaster covering the surface of the icon was removed and experts continued to study its significance.
Ziad al-Bandak, the lead of the renovation team, called the work "revolutionary," Daily Mail reports.
"For the first time you can see, when you go up, mosaics really magnificent and beautiful and unique in the whole world," he said. Earlier, he said that another $11 million is needed for the project. The Palestinian Authority launched a fund-raising drive.
"He told me from the beginning: 'Even if you don't have all the money to go ahead, start. This is a holy place and money will come,'" said Mahmoud Abbas, president of the self-government body.
"We are very proud of it because when we protect our national heritage, our history, we protect our future," al-Bandak said.