BASRA, Iraq -- Inside Basra's Virgin Mary Chaldean Church, light twinkles from delicate glass chandeliers and paintings depicting Christ's mother line the walls.
The church's last service was held in 2005, but it reopened in June following a 270 million Iraqi dinar ($228,000) renovation funded by Iraq's central bank and the Association of Iraqi Private Banks.
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"The idea was to renovate the church so it would be fit for praying in," Hassan al-Helfe, one of the renovation's chief engineers, told Al-Monitor. "Everything you see is new, while preserving the old style. The project was supposed to last four months, but we finished in two by working two shifts, day and night."
A team of 25 workers including engineers, carpenters and electricians repaired cracked walls and water damage, fixed the windows, upgraded old wiring and added air conditioning units.
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