I visited Bethlehem in Palestine in the spring of 2010. This is what Jesus’ birthplace looks like now.
We had to go through an Israeli checkpoint to get here.
The Church of the Nativity is 1,700 years old. It was built on the traditional site of where Jesus is believed to have been born. It was built thanks to Saint Helena, mother of Emperor Constantine I and was completed in the year 333.
Part of the original mosaic floor was discovered in the 1930s.
This painting of the Magi, or three wise men, is what kept the Persians from destroying the basilica in 614. This is because the Magi were Persian and the commander recognized that because of their clothing in the painting.
The church is actually two in one. The first part, the basilica, is shown in the pictures above. Below is the Church of St. Catharine. This is where Christmas Eve Mass is held.
I don’t know anything about this statue, I just really liked it. It was at the back of the sanctuary and was about 12 inches tall.
The courtyard has a statue of St. Jerome. It is traditional belief that he translated the Hebrew Bible to Latin at this site, although really he was just in Bethlehem somewhere.
The door into the basilica is called the “Door of Humility.” But we were told that the door was made that small to keep the Crusaders’ horses out. You can see the archway entrance that has been filled in and above that the original doorway.
O little town of Bethlehem indeed.