Monday, May 19, 2014

Church of the Nativity- Bethlehem

The original site of the Church of the Nativity
 was razed during the Bar-Kochba Revolt ( 132-125 AD)
 and the Romans set up a shrine to Adonis in its place. 
The Church of the Nativity was built
 on the site in the 4th century when Helena,
 the mother of the Byzantine Emperor Constantine,
 was sent to Israel to preserve and restore
 the sites important to Christianity. 

The entrance to the church is a low doorway 
that has its own story. 
One legend says that the door was installed
 by the Muslims during their rule to remind Christians
 that they were guests in the country
 and must bow to their hosts. 
An alternative explanation is that the height
 of the door was designed to prevent
 warriors from storming the church on horseback.

Four rows of Corinthian pillars
 with pictures of the apostles 
divide the church into five naves. 

A fourteen point silver star embedded 
in white marble signifies the birthplace of Christ.

The church has a colorful history. 
The present building, the oldest church in Israel, 
was reconstructed in the 6th century
 by the Emperor Justinian (527-565).
When the Persians invaded in 614, 
legend says that they left the church intact
 because they were impressed
 with a pairing inside depicting
 the Magi dressed in Persian clothing.
King Edward IV of England donated wood
 from English oak trees for the ceiling of the church.

The Holy site, or lower level cave
 was known as the Grotto.
 The Church of the Nativity sits atop,
 and is associated with the cave
in which the birth of Jesus of Nazareth occurred.

The church has a colorful history.
 The present building,
 the oldest church in Israel,
 was reconstructed in the 6th century
 by the Emperor Justinian (527-565). 

Today, while Bethlehem lies within the West Bank territory 
and is under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian authority, 
it is still one of the most visited sites in the Holy Land.

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