The roof of the Church of the Nativity
In contrast to most Eastern churches, the roof covering was not vaulted but formed by covered trusses, as described by Louis de Rochechouart before the 1461 restoration: “In the roof there is a wooden structure built in ancient times. This is daily falling into ruins, above all over the choir.
The Saracens will not allow anyone to rebuild or restore it, so it is a miracle, worked by the Babe who was born there, that it still remains”. The roof of the Church of the Nativity underwent a major renovation in 1479 at the wish of the Guardian, Giovanni Tomacelli.
The timber, paid for by Philip the Good of Burgundy was transported in Venetian ships, while the lead for the roof was a gift from the English king Edward IV. A later renovation by the Greeks was carried out in 1671, on which occasion the cedar was replaced by pine, according to the testimony of Father Nau.
The major effort required in terms of materials and economic resources had the fortunate result of producing a roof that has lasted to the present day, although it is now in a considerably deteriorated state, which has led to major problems for the decorative wall mosaics.
In particular, during the summer months the lead structure “moves” due to the extremely high temperatures it reaches, allowing water to leak inside. We can recommend to the visitor a very interesting aerial view of the church from the roof of the Church of St. Catherine, which allows one to take in the construction of the three-apsed structure of the Sanctuary and to better understand the various changes in the perimeter of the building that have taken place over the centuries.