Jesus’ birthplace, i.e. the Basilica of the Nativity, and the Bethlehem pilgrimage route in Palestine have been removed from the “List of Endangered World Patrimony,” by the Committee of the World Patrimony, gathered in Baku, Azerbaijan, from June 30 to July 10, 2019, stated a press release of UNESCO — the international organization to which the Committee belongs –, published on July 2, 2019.
The Committee explained that its decision is due to the high quality of the works carried out in the church of the Nativity: the restoration of its roof, the exterior facades, the mosaics, and the doors. It also received positively the news that a tunnel excavation project, under the Square of the Manger, has been halted, and a plan is being adopted to manage the conservation of the site.
Christian Tradition identifies this enclave, situated 10 kilometers south of Jerusalem, as Jesus’ birthplace since the 2nd century. The first church was finished in 339 A.D. The building that replaced it, after a fire in the 6th century, still has the floor mosaics of the original building. According to the press release, this area includes Latin, Greek Orthodox, Franciscan, and Armenian convents and churches, as well as bell towers, gardens in terraces and a pilgrimage route.
Inscribed in the “World Patrimony List” in 2012, Jesus’ birthplace was added simultaneously to the List of Endangered World Patrimony due to the poor state of the Basilica of the Nativity.
The object of the List of Endangered World Patrimony is to inform the International Community of the conditions that threaten the characteristics for which a property has been inscribed in the “World Patrimony List” — either due to armed conflicts, natural disasters, unplanned urbanization, poaching, contamination or other causes –, as well as fomenting pertinent corrective measures.
The World Patrimony’s Inter-Governmental Committee is made up of 21 members elected by the General Assembly States Parties in their biennial meeting.
During its annual meeting, the Committee decides what places are to be inscribed in the “World Patrimony List,” or asks the Members States for more information. The committee also examines reports on the state of conservation of the inscribed places and takes all the necessary decisions in this ambit.