I was privileged to visit Bethlehem which in Hebrew means “House of bread”, it has many biblical associations reflecting a tranquil, pastoral existence. As its name signifies, in antiquity the district was known for its fertility and for the cultivation of its fields and terraces. But the event which took place here and transformed the course of history was that “Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea”.
In the New Testament, Luke 2:7 it said, “And she (Mary) brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.” Over this cave-like manger, traditionally Jesus’ birthplace, arose the Basilica of the Nativity.
In the fourth century, Emperor Constantine constructed a large church, piercing a hole in the cave roof for the faithful to look down into the holy place, then erecting an octagonal altar over it. Around two hundred years later, Emperor Justinian rebuilt the Basilica much as it is seen today, and put up a mosaic pediment of the Magi in Persian dress. In 614, the Persians destroyed almost all churches in Palestine. But this church was spared because of the mosaic scene of the Nativity with the Magi in Persian dress. Thus, the Church of the Nativity is the oldest church in the Holy Land, and probably also of the world!
The Door of Humility. Main entrance to the church.
The entrance to the Basilica of the Nativity was low and small to allow for easy defense and to prevent intruders on their horses from entering the church.
The pillars inside the church The interiors of the church Cute little girls posing in front. Their moms caught us taking photos of them, so they asked their daughters to look at us and smile! Sweet! 🙂
On top of the entrance to the Grotto showed the carved image of Mary and Baby Jesus with Joseph below.
The crowded entrance to the Grotto of the Nativity.
I patiently waited even if I’m almost squished by these people. LOL. XD
Two entrances lead to the cave which has a rectangular shape (35 feet by 10 feet). But now, one is used for entrance and the other for exit.
I was able to have a SOLO photo without anyone blocking it. Thanks to my friend, Yvette for taking this! 😀
Thank you God for sending Your beloved Son, Jesus Christ here on Earth to save us from our sins! ❤
The Grotto of the Nativity, is where a silver star overlies the spot that marks the traditional spot believed to be the birthplace of Jesus. It bears the Latin inscription “Hic de virgine Maria Jesus Christus natus est -1717”– meaning: “Here Jesus Christ was born of the Virgin Mary -1717.”
Constantine’s 4th century mosaic floor rediscovered in 1934.
These lovely girls holding their camera came up to me, I saw them and asked, “Do you want me to take your photos?” They said, “No. We want to take photos with you.” So here’s our photo in my camera (plus on theirs too). These girls were having their educational field trip in Israel. I forgot the name of their school because it was so hard to pronounce. 😛
Where was it found in the Bible?
Check out: Luke 2: 4-7
New King James Version (NKJV)
4 Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David,
5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child.
6 So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered.
7 And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
TRIVIA: IN 2012, THE CHURCH COMPLEX BECAME THE FIRST PALESTINIAN SITE TO BE LISTED AS A WORLD HERITAGE SITE BY THE WORLD HERITAGE COMMITTEE AT ITS 36TH SESSION ON 29 JUNE. IT HAS ALSO BEEN PLACED ON THE LIST OF WORLD HERITAGE IN DANGER AS IT IS SUFFERING FROM DAMAGES DUE TO WATER LEAKS.
Photography by ME: Sarah May Tanhuanco
Additional sources: The Holy Land – Palphot.