The majestic church is in the heart of the old city of Jerusalem

The Church of Holy Sepulchre, also known as the Church of Resurrection (كنيسة القيامة) in Arabic, is of the holiest sites revered by Christians the world over. 

Located in the Christian Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem, it is where followers of the faith believe Jesus Christ was crucified, entombed, and resurrected. 

The historical Church has undergone some mass restoration works, and after months of waiting, the holy site was re-opened once again in March 2017. The last time it had had any work done was some 200 years ago. 

A ceremony marking the end of restoration work on the site of Jesus' tomb in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre (photo by REUTERS/Sebastian Scheiner)

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre is one of the oldest churches in the Middle East, dating back to 335 A.D.. Scores of pilgrims from all-over the globe visit the revered church annually. 

Uniderneath the dome in a church

For the past 800 years, two families have been opening and closing the door of the holy site. After Muslim leader Saladin’s conquest of Jerusalem in 1187, a disagreement erupted between the different Christian denominations about who should open and close the gate of the Holy Sepulchre. As a result, a deal with the Christian sects was brokered and two Muslim families were entrusted to be the neutral guardians of the holy site to prevent further dispute. 

The Joudeh and Nuseibeh families, which hail from the city of Jerusalem in Palestine, have been sharing this responsibility for centuries. For more than 800 years, they have been protecting the holy site and keeping it open to the faithful. The Joudeh family are the custodians of the gate's key, while the Nuseibeh family are responsible for opening the gates and letting worshipers into the church.

Adib Joudeh al-Husseini al-Ghodayya, the current custodian of the key to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre (photo by The Joudeh al-Husseini al-Ghodayya Family)

The Historical site's wooden gate opens everyday at 4 a.m. and closes at 8:30 p.m., welcoming pilgrims, clergymen, and dignitaries from all over the world. This is an inspiring example of coexistence and mutual respect in a world full of tension. 

"We do not coexist with Muslims, but we share living with them. We live together, we are not strangers," Father Manuel Musallam, the head of the PLO Department of the Christian World, told Al Monitor. 

Tourists and pilgrims at a side entrance to the Holy Sepulchre, photo by Bonfils, 1870s

This is a story of interfaith trust, one that has lasted for hundreds of years. 

Hopefully one day, we will see peace in the holy land once again.