The Curious Case of the Church

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre, also called the Church of the Resurrection, is a Christian church within the Old City of Jerusalem. The site is venerated by most Christians as the place where Jesus peace be upon him was falsely alleged to have was crucified, and is said to also contain the place where Jesus was buried (the sepulchre). It has been an important pilgrimage destination since the 4th century and the holiest place in Christendom.
The church is jealously managed by six competing and often disputatious Christian denominations: Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Armenian Orthodox, Coptic, Syrian Orthodox and Ethiopian Orthodox. Many a time (as late as Apr 20, 2008) tensions spill over into violence. Amazingly, a Muslim family, the Nuseibeh family, holds the key to the sacred sepulchre, and for 13 centuries this family has opened the door to Christendom’s holiest site. The Nuseibeh family has helped keep the peace between the rival Christian factions since Caliph Umar first conquered Jerusalem for the Muslims in 638 and gave them the key. The only gap was 88 years of Crusader rule. Every morning at 4 am, Wajeeh Nuseibeh takes an ancient iron key, climbs a ladder and opens the doors to the church. Every evening, after three raps of an iron doorknocker spaced over half an hour, Nuseibeh closes up and places the key in safekeeping.
The church was restored and renovated several times by Christians under Muslim rule, and Christian pilgrims were always allowed full access to this and other holy places in Palestine. When Salahuddin Ayyubi recaptured Jerusalem in 1191, he allowed the Nuseibeh family to resume their role as custodians. Since that time, the Judeh family, also Muslims, keep the key overnight, but only the Nuseibehs serve as doorkeeper. The role passes from father to son. Once a year, the three biggest Christian denominations publicly renew their request to Nuseibeh to be the custodian and doorkeeper.