Just in time for Easter, Jesus Christ's tomb has been resurrected. A restoration team has completed a historic renovation of the Edicule, the shrine that tradition says houses the cave where Jesus was buried and ascended to heaven.

Edicule Church Holy Sepulchre Jerusalem
The Edicule around the tomb of Jesus Christ in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem is seen without its iron cage for the first time since 1947Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images

The limestone and marble structure is at the centre of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, one of the world's oldest churches – a 12th-century building standing on 4th-century remains. The shrine needed urgent attention after years of exposure to factors like water, humidity and candle smoke.

Gone is the unsightly iron cage built around the shrine by British authorities in 1947 to shore up the walls. Gone is the black soot on the shrine's stone façade from decades of pilgrims lighting candles. And gone are fears about the stability of the old shrine, which hadn't been restored in more than 200 years.

Edicule Church Holy Sepulchre Jerusalem
A photo taken in 1999 shows the iron cage around the EdiculeReuters
Edicule Church Holy Sepulchre Jerusalem
The tomb of Jesus Christ inside the rotunda of the Church of the Holy SepulchreLior Mizrahi/Getty Images
Edicule Church Holy Sepulchre Jerusalem
People visit the tomb of Jesus Christ, now without the iron cage that had supported it since 1947Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images
Edicule Church Holy Sepulchre Jerusalem
A woman prays next to the Edicule inside the rotunda of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in JerusalemLior Mizrahi/Getty Images
Edicule Church Holy Sepulchre Jerusalem
A worshipper prays inside the Edicule surrounding the tomb of Jesus, where his body is believed to have been laidGali Tibbon/AFP
Edicule Church Holy Sepulchre Jerusalem
Greek Orthodox clergy carry a processional cross as they circle the Edicule at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem on 5 March 2017Gali Tibbon/AFP
Edicule Church Holy Sepulchre Jerusalem
Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos III is seen praying in front of the Edicule at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem on 5 March 2017Gali Tibbon/AFP

Three main Christian denominations jealously guard separate sections of the church, but they put aside their long-standing religious rivalries to give their blessing for the restoration. In 2015, Israeli police briefly shut down the building after Israel's Antiquities Authority deemed it unsafe, and repairs began in June 2016.

A restoration team from the National Technical University of Athens stripped the stone slabs from the shrine's façade and patched up the internal masonry of the shrine, injecting it with tubes of grout for reinforcement. Each stone slab was cleaned of candle soot and pigeon droppings, then put back in place. Titanium bolts were inserted into the structure for reinforcement, and frescos and the shrine's painted dome were given a facelift.

In October 2016, the team entered the inner sanctum of the shrine, the burial chamber of Jesus, and temporarily slid open an old marble layer covering the bedrock where Jesus' body is said to have been placed. Below the outer marble layer was a white rose marble slab engraved with a cross, which the team dated to the late Crusader period of the 14th century. Beneath that marble slab was an even older, grey marble slab protecting the bedrock, and mortar on the slab dates to the 4th century, when Roman Emperor Constantine ordered the Church of the Holy Sepulchre be built.

Edicule Church Holy Sepulchre Jerusalem
28 October 2016: A Franciscan friar looks at the exposed the tomb of Jesus after the marble slab covering it was temporarily removedGali Tibbon/AFP
Edicule Church Holy Sepulchre Jerusalem
28 October 2016: Greek preservation experts place back the marble slab stone that covered the tomb of Jesus after it was removed for three days for restoration worksGali Tibbon/AFP
Edicule Church Holy Sepulchre Jerusalem
28 October 2016: Scaffolding is seen around the Edicule surrounding the tomb of JesusGali Tibbon/AFP

The restorers have cut a small window from the shrine's marble walls for pilgrims to see — for the first time — the bare stone of the ancient burial cave.

Edicule Church Holy Sepulchre Jerusalem
A woman prays inside the Church of the Holy SepulchreLior Mizrahi/Getty Images

"If this intervention hadn't happened now, there is a very great risk that there could have been a collapse," Bonnie Burnham of the World Monuments Fund said. "This is a complete transformation of the monument."

The fund provided an initial $1.4m (£1.12m) for the $4m restoration, thanks to a donation by the widow of the founder of Atlantic Records. Jordan's King Abdullah II and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas also chipped in about €150,000 (£130,000) each, along with other private and church donations, Burnham said.