Feuding monks in bad odour over sewage | International News | News | Telegraph:

A blockage to the 19th century lavatory block’s solitary outflow pipe caused sewage to leak just yards from Golgotha, the rocky outcrop where Jesus is believed to have been crucified. With Jerusalem’s summer heat fast approaching, there are fears of a major health risk. advertisement But in spite of the site’s status as the most sacred shrine in Christianity, tension between the denominations who share custodianship of the church precincts has prevented repair work being carried out.

The latrines were built in the first half of the 19th century to service the needs of the thirty Greek Orthodox, Armenian and Franciscan monks who live all year round inside the Holy Sepulchre.

So fierce was the rivalry between the three main denominations that under an 1852 status quo agreement two of ten lavatory stalls were reserved exclusively for the Armenians, two for the Greeks and the remainder were shared.

But as the number of Christian pilgrims visiting the Holy Sepulchre built up towards the end of the 19th century, so it became common practice for them to be used by more than just the resident clergy.

The outflow pipe slowly became overwhelmed leading to calls for a major restoration of the facilities with perhaps a new pumping system to get round the problem of an outflow pipe with a propensity to block.

Money was no object with various pilgrim groups saying they would be willing to pay. But the three denominations could not all agree so the work has not taken place.

At present it is the Armenians who are withholding their agreement because of a row with the Greek Orthodox over the protocols of the miracle of the Holy Fire, an Easter ceremony key to both denominations.

“In principle, of course, we Armenians are not against the restoration of the toilets,” Archbishop Aris Shirvanian, spokesman for the Armenian Patriarchate, said.

“But because of the question of the Holy Fire disagreement with the Greek community, this has temporarily affected the undertaking of the restoration of the toilets.”

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