The period of the British Mandate

Following the First World War, which saw the defeat of Germany and its ally Turkey, Palestine was entrusted to the British Mandatory Authority. 



The hope that the issue of the Holy Places could at last be resolved in an equitable manner, since the British were not involved in any of the issues and hence could theoretically serve as impartial judges among the contending parties, was unfortunately not fulfilled.


The plan to form a commission that would examine the rights of each of the religious communities was withdrawn, and responsibility for resolving the controversies was placed in the hands of the British High Commissioner for Palestine, with instructions to strictly enforce the Status Quo. 


In the case of urgent works or restorations, based on Article 13 of the Mandate and a 1929 regulation issued by the Department of Antiquities, the British government was able to intervene directly. Such interventions took place in both 1934 and 1939. 



Following the major earthquake in 1927, the British architect Austen St. Barbe Harrison sounded the alarm about the dangerous instability of the church and had it reinforced with iron girders and wooden supports. 



The Franciscans and Greeks invited specialist architects to carry out a further survey which concluded that the reinforcing works that had been carried out were insufficient to avoid a catastrophe, and hence other solutions had to be found.
The three religious communities, on their part, got together to carry out repairs to the damages from the earthquake: the Greeks reconstructed at their own expense the dome of the Katholikon, the Franciscans repaired the Chapel of Calvary and the Armenians the Chapel of St. Helena.

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