The area of Jerusalem and Bethlehem is a millennial host for multiple worships. Since the 4th century it is the most important pilgrimage destination for Christians. In spite of this, religious diversity has generated in time wars, violence and disputes. A delicate and unstable balance rules today the functions of each ethnic and religious group established in the area.
Particularly, the Holy Sepulchre complex, home of the headquarters of the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem features a shared control between several Christian churches and secular entities in complicated arrangements essentially unchanged for centuries. Today Greek Orthodox, Armenians, Roman Catholics, Copts, Ethiopians and Syrian Orthodox all share rights to the church. Times and places of worship for each community are strictly regulated in common areas, filling the church with a continuous cycle of prayers regulated by the status quo arrangement of 1853. The Muslim Nuseibeh and the Joudeh Al-Goudia families were entrusted in the past as custodian to the keys of the Holy Sepulchre. This arrangement still persists nowadays.
Jerusalem and Bethlehem. September 2012