Restoration Begins on Tomb of Jesus in Jerusalem's Church of Holy Sepulchre

Work is expected to last up to a year, during which time visitors will still be able to visit the holy site.

Christian pilgrims wait in line to visit the tomb of Jesus Christ in the Church of Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem Friday, May 20, 2016.
Mahmoud Illean, AP

Christian officials have launched historic restoration work at the Tomb of Jesus inside the Church of Holy Sepulchre site, where tradition holds Jesus was crucified, buried and resurrected.

The works are the first in almost two centuries that will focus on repairing, reinforcing and conserving the structure.

Pilgrims will be able to continue visiting the site while the work is underway. It's expected to last up to a year.

Clerics from the three denominations that oversee the church — Greek Orthodox, Roman Catholic and Armenian — shook hands in a show of unity next to scaffolding erected on Friday. Work is set to begin in about a week.

Greek-Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, Theophilos III says the ceremony was a message "that we are delivering what we promised."