Grotto of the Nativity in Bethlehem
The Grotto of the Nativity in Bethlehem is where you will find the manger where Jesus was born. The natural limestone walls of this ancient cave were decorated during the Constantine period. How beautiful they must have been. During the Byzantine period the walls were covered with a beautiful marble. The entrance to the grotto is placed to the side of the manger out of respect for the place where Jesus was born. This simple, but elegant, Grotto of the Nativity first began to be a Holy Site in the Byzantine period. It was then that an altar was placed in the cave to remember the exact place where baby Jesus was born. It was at this time that The Grotto of the Nativity became a place set aside to remember the birth of the Messiah. It is still a place set aside to remember. What a special place it is!
Under the altar is a beautiful star. The inscription reads in Latin: “Hic de Virgine Maria Iesus Christus natus est. ” The translation of this inscription is: "In memory of the precise spot of the Nativity." How amazing it is to see the very spot where the baby Jesus was born. Off toward the right of the altar is the location of the crib or manger where Mary laid the baby Jesus. What a special place! The simplistic beauty of the Grotto of the Nativity is amazing. What a beautiful remembrance of this special time in the history of mankind.
The Grotto of the Nativity is in very good condition and has been used for several purposes. In the front of the manger is a smaller altar where the Latin Mass has always been said. This altar is dedicated to the three kings who came to worship the Christ Child. The Grotto of the Nativity is a place of remembrance.
Over the years there has been some changes made to the manger due to natural wear and tear. The manger is not the exact original one. Alterations were made to the original manager because of the aging of the this holy relic.
In 1869 there was a fire in The Grotto of the Nativity. To prevent future fires, the marble walls were covered with asbestos. Under the asbestos covering are the original marble walls. On top of the asbestos are paintings done by different artists. The paintings are beautiful but are of limited value.
The Grotto of the Nativity is an important Holy Site that deserves to be on every itinerary. No Israel adventure or pilgrimage is complete without witnessing the place where Jesus was born. This was an unique and important period of history in the Holy Land. It is one that you will not want to miss. Take time to explore all of the many Holy Sites in the Bethlehem area. Once you have experienced these sites for yourself, nothing will ever be quite the same. You will never look at history in the same way. Bethlehem Village is where history comes alive. Yesterday becomes as today and today is an extension of yesterday. If you have never traveled to the Holy Land, make this the year that you set out on an Israel adventure.