Palestine: Bethlehem – Church of the Nativity

The Church of the Nativity is the place where Jesus was supposedly born. The church was built in 317 AD over the cave considered to be the birth site. The church is administered jointly by Greek Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Armenian Apostolic churches. All three have monasteries adjoining the church and the monks often quarrel and argue (same goes for the armies of pilgrims). The church is really a combination of several churches built over time all above the Grotto of Nativity. A 14-corner star marks the spot in the grotto where Jesus was born. The church is very crowded, is under restoration, and quite dark. Some floors are exposing ancient mosaic. Icons and various other things are hanging all over the place from the ceiling and the walls, it’s like a Christmas tree in a way.