Bethlehem Cave Of The Nativity
Bethlehem, a small town a few miles south of Jerusalem, is home to a cave. It is in the midst of the fertile valleys of the Holy Land. Here in the city of David, a child is believed to have been born. It is here that people come to pray! They come remembering who he was and what he did. They come from around the world with thanksgiving! They come to remember what he did for them. They come to pray!
The Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem is built over the cave where Jesus is believed to have been born. The original Church of the Nativity survives in part below the current church. It is actually built over the cave. The original Basilica Church was built-in 339AD. It was arranged in such a way as to have the cave in view as they worshiped. The current Church of the Nativity is the oldest Christian Church known to be in daily use in the world. The current Church of the Nativity is jointly overseen by the Greek Orthodox Church and the Armenian Church.
For over 1700 years, the Church of the Nativity has been a pilgrim destination. The Eastern section of the road from Jerusalem to Bethlehem is known as “the Pilgrimage Route.” This route is well-marked for the pilgrims to be able to follow the road easily and arrive at the cave. The road connects near King David’s Well in Bethlehem, and follows “Star Street.” The road then goes through the Damascus Gate and continues to Manger Square. This is the official path that is used by all three of the Christian Churches when they each have their own celebrations.
The Church of the Nativity is made up of several buildings which are the monasteries belonging to the Franciscan Order(Roman Catholic), Armenian Church, and the Greek Orthodox Church. The property also includes part of the Pilgrimage Route. The cave which is believed to be the birth place of Jesus is documented from the Fourth Century. Since medieval times, the Church of the Nativity has been supported by all three of the Bethlehem monasteries on the property.
Today, as you enter the church, it is done quietly and respectfully. At any time, you can look and someone will have come to pray. Someone will be giving thanks! Someone will be remembering Jesus, who was born in this cave, over 2,000 years ago. The pilgrims come walking from Jerusalem! They come rejoicing! They come to pray!