This short video introduces the three main shrines in Bethlehem including the Church of the Nativity which is the oldest church in the Holy Land.
In Bethlehem, three Shrines have preserved throughout Millennia the history of Jesus’ birth and life.
The Field of the Shepherds is located in Bet Sahur, a sentinel house 3 km from the centre of Bethlehem. Near the Grotto, a Franciscan Chapel was built in 1924 over the remains of a Byzantine Monastery. The Frescos of the Chapel inspire a profound meditation of the meaning of the place.
The Basilica of the Nativity is the oldest Church of the Holy Land, a true jewel in the History of Art. Saint Helena, mother of Roman Emperor Constantine, ordered its construction in 326.
“Since the first century it has been venerated as Jesus’ birth place, one of the most important places of the Holy Land; it is a Byzantine Shrine. The Grotto is small, however it conceals within a treasure, for it witnessed the Incarnation of the Son of God.”
In 1717 the Franciscans placed a 14 pointed silver star and a Latin inscription which reads “Here, Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary”.
“The Franciscans, together with St. Francis, came in 1219 to venerate the place, after the Sultan gave them permission to visit the holy places. They have officially been here since 1347.”
Another Shrine is the Milk Grotto, which, according to the apocrypha tradition, is the place where the Virgin Mary hid to breastfeed Baby Jesus. For historians this might be the place where the Holy Family lived before fleeing to Egypt. It is a place of devotion for the Christian and Muslim women of the region. With the increase of pilgrims in 2007, the Grotto was restored in order to accommodate a greater number of people.