Sunday, December 26, 2010


The austere and simple character of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, one of the most important sites of Christianity, contrasts with the current season's paraphernalia: , awesome lighting arrangements, special decorations, giant and original trees and winter decorations (ironically,even in places like my country, wehre Chriistmas is in summer) of shopping centers in an era devoted to consumption.
I believe that the Church of the Nativity is of great importance, even if the reader is a believer or not, because of its historic architectural value (one of the oldest churches in the Byzantine style),and for being a conspicuous example of the relationship between architecture and the symbolic value of religious manifestations. This post will focus on both aspects.

Iglesia de la Natividad en los 1920s Church of the Nativity in the 1920s

Bethlehem, Bethlehem, whose name literally means "House of Meat" is a historic city in Palestine, located about 8 km from Jerusalem, the de facto capital of Israel. Surrounded by arid hills, with typical desert climate, Bethlehem has grown into a major Palestinian city.
Bethlehem view from the tower of the Church of the Nativity (1862)

Bethlehem is mentioned several times in the Bible , even from the Old Testament. Formerly called Ephrata, it was there where Rachel was buried ( Genesis 35:19 ) and it was also the land of King David. Given its proximity to Jerusalem, Bethelehm was, according to the gospels, the alternative chosen by Joseph, after finding no lodging in the ancient capital of Judea.

Bethlehem today.

It is ironic that in the birthplace of Christianity most people profess the Islamic religion. Bethlehem's urban landscape is more populated by minarets than by church belltowers, so we may have to update that Carol " Jingle Bells . "

Bethlehem has historically been a place for pilgrimages and religious disputes. Because of its proximity to Jerusalem, it is considered a sacred place of great importance. In fact both cities have been linked by their history, geographical setting and symbolism, recognized by three religions: Christianity, Islam and Judaism.Only recently this union between Jerusalem and Bethlehem has been fractured by the so-called "Wall of Shame", a barrier that divides Israel and Palestine and whose brutal stabbing appears as a scar on the beautiful ocher landscape of Judea.

Come, shepherds, come, come to Bethlehem ... but first have to cross the strict and unfriendly control in the Israeli-Palestinian border.


The Gospels of Matthew and Luke mention Jesus' birth in Bethlehem, but do not specify an exact location, even references. Only Luke wrote that Christ was born in a manger because there was no room at the inn "( Lk 2:7 ) How can we know that the church is standing on the actual birthplace of Christ?

There are two clues about that. The first one is the apocryphal Gospel of St. James , son of Zebedee, which states that Jesus was born in a cave, which makes sense since there were many caves in the area, annexed to houses, where livestock is often kept.
The second one comes from the Emperor Hadrian (76-138 AD), who had built a shrine honoring the Roman god Adonis in the cave that the early Christians venerated as the place where Jesus would be born. When they tried to suppress this new religion, in fact they underlined the place they were trying to hide (although some argue that it was the Christians who took over the temple of Adonis for his own religion).

But the truth is that there are no specific records that comfirm that this was the precise location of the birth of Christ, unlike the Golgotha in Jerusalem, which shows more clearly the place of his crucifixion. It is impossible to affirm or deny that indeed the birthplace of Christ is the one marked on the Church of the Nativity, nor is it impossible to prove that Jesus was born on December 24, but what this building means is more important than its exact geographical location or chronological accuracy. It is then that the basilica becomes important as a symbolic site and its architecture has provided a framework that marks a significant event for millions of people throughout history. In the words of Geoffrey Broadbent, the meaning becomes more important than significant.

Sketch of the Church of the Nativity in 1925.


In 326, St. Helena, the mother of Emperor Constantine, ordered the construction of a church on top of the cave, culminated in 339. It was a small octagonal building with an area of 4 m in diameter in the center, where the cave revered as the birthplace of Christ was revered.

That first church mosaics are still visible, illustrating the genealogy of Jesus as the Gospel of Matthew, as well as floral and geometric compositions.

A fire destroyed that church, so that in 530 Justinian built the current basilica. In 614 the Moors invaded and razed Bethlehem, but the church was saved. It is said that the Islamists were moved by the representation of the three wise men in Persian attire (the magi in general were followers of Zarathustra, a Persian prophet who promoted one of the oldest monotheistic religions in the world and greatly influenced Judaism during the exile in Babylon.)

Church of the Nativity in 1947, the creation of the state of Israel.

The church flourished again during the invasion of the Crusaders, a time when the interior was redecorated. However, it deteriorated during the occupation of the Mamelukes and Ottomans.
Since 1852 the custody of the church is in charge of the Greek Orthodox, Roman Catholic and Armenian Church.


The Church of the Nativity is located atop a hill and consists, in addition to the basilica, three convents.

Opposite the church there is a large square, an atrium called the Manger Square, which is usually flooded with people during Christmas celebrations.

The basilica itself is a rectangular building with three circular apses that give the shape of a cross. These are the main altar in the background and the altars of the Virgin and the Circumcision on the sides. Upon entering, we are received by a narthex , a sort of inner court was added after the building of the temple and in general is a transitional space between the exterior and the sacred space of the church.

A curious detail is that entrance is a small opening, called the Door of Humility. Formerly in Byzantine times the entry was an arcade, but during Ottoman times the entrance was reduced to prevent the infidels from entering the church horse.

Inside, the nave is divided into five islands defined by 4 rows of 11 columns each.The height of the main space suggests a monumental space while allowing the entry of light, while the lateral spaces offer a more intimate experience, ideal to the prayers of pilgrims.

Interior of the Church of the Nativity in 1867

The columns are decorated with figures of saints, made in the twelfth century during the rule of the Crusaders, but are darkened by the passage of time. Some of the figures include those of canonized kings, like St. Canute, king of England in 1017 and St. Olaf, King of Norway in 1016. Furthermore, in the lower parts of the columns there are many graffiti, made by pilgrims over the centuries.

Details of the columns of the nave.

Altar of the Virgin, one of the lateral semicircular apses

The wooden roof corresponds to the fifteenth century and originally was covered with lead, both donated by King Edward IV of England. Unfortunately the lead was cast by the Turks to make munitions during their war against the Venetians, and today the roof is in poor condition.

Since it is an Orthodox church, it is noticeable the presence of an iconostasis , a wall decorated with icons, located opposite the altar.

But undoubtedly the most important element of the church on the Grotto of the Nativity, located behind the altar and is in charge of the Orthodox Church. Some semicircular stairs give way to a narrow passage.

Given the large number of pilgrims, visiting the cave lasts just seconds, maybe a minute, before an Orthodox priest hurried us out.

Inside, in a marble-covered space, a silver star is located, marking the spot where it says Jesus was born, and bearing the inscription Hic Virgine Maria Jesus Christus natus est.

In 1853 the theft of the Silver Star was an important factor in the outbreak of the Crimean War , between France, the Ottomans and Russia.

Other outbuildings include the Chapel of St. Jerome, who was the one who translated the Old Testament into Latin, and the church of Santa Catalina, ruled by Catholics.

Details of the Chapel of St. Jerome.
This bas-relief called The Tree of Jesse is the work of Polish sculptorCzesław Dźwigaj and located in the Church of Santa Catalina, which was a gift from Pope Benedict XVI during his visit to the Holy Land.

Junzo, Jan, My Parents and Emily. Thank you very much for joining us during our visit to Bethlehem.


  1. Very interesting blog. Lot of blogs I see these days don't really provide anything that I'm interested in, but I'm most definitely interested in this one. Ramadan Tent Rentals | الفارس العالمية للخيام | Ramadan Tents Dubai | Ramadan Tents Dubai | Ramadan Tents Rental | Ramadan Tents Rental | الفارس العالمية للخيام

  2. We offer personal loans up to $ 100,000, you are looking for a business loan and have been denied by a bank, we can help with loans of $ 5,000 to a maximum of $ 100,000 * that can help you get your business Rebuild and get you back Can bring you on a path to a better financial future.

    On time, you can apply in just a few minutes and get your money the same day.

    Do not delay! E-mail via {} or visit us at one of our sites to see how we can help.

    Thank you for contacting us,

    Best regards
    Mr.Samsul Alam

  3. In India over 400 examinations are conducted every year and the exams are generally classified on the basis of the domain or field of study. Basically, they are bifurcated as Engineering, Law, Medicine, MBA, Design, Pharmacy, Computer Application, Finance and Accounts. These entrance exams take a toll of the candidate who aspires to crack it but with proper knowledge regarding how to top an exam, one can easily clear it. This page intends to furnish relevant information about the exam and the best ways to crack them.The best mba college in ghaziabad have all the courses which are good for the education system and in this management you can get top engineering college in uptu is also convenient for all.

  4. Are you searching for employment practice in Hyderabad? Did you discover one yet? It’s a troublesome nut to crack as a result of every job consultancy in hyderabad is totally different completely and offers different services. Before selecting one, the individual must aid analysis on what services they need and what expectations they need from the task practice in Hyderabad. Their square measure varied choices accessible. select what’s best for you.


  5. From candidate placement to solving client’s queries, we at doctifyindia provide all the services that are concerned with the doctors hiring process. to understand more about our services, kindly read on.

  6. After seeing your article I want to say that the presentation is very good and also a well-written article with some very good information which is very useful for the readers. Thanks for sharing. keep it up.
    Leading Commercial Real Estate Services Company in UAE - CBRE

  7. Excellent content! Love to read your blogs. Thanks for sharing keep doing......


    Jskilz Global is a leading medical recruitment agency in the UK. Are you looking for healthcare jobs.

    Know more about How to become a dental nurse & Get the full details about overseas registration exam.

    Visit our official website and apply for the Dentist Jobs in UK.

  8. A shareholder or director of the Dutch BV may be a foreign company, a local company, or an individual. Changes to the Dutch Business Law have made it much easier to establish a Netherlands BV, lowering the cost of forming a company in Holland significantly.

  9. In the Netherlands,
    What is Dutch BV ?
    A limited liability company is referred to as a BV (Besloten Vennootschap) in Dutch (limited-liability commerce). Foreign entrepreneurs and investors who want to establish a new business in the Netherlands typically form a Dutch BV company.

  10. Ghoomly is a unique traveling platform in India that offers a wide range of tour and travel activities for the travel enthusiast, Ghoomlytailor-made packages for each and everyone who is willing to travel on any budget. They are offering 1200+ tour packages with 20+ different locations in India. Users can simply visit their website and find the best-suited packages.

  11. Dutch company formation is one of the best options for offshore company formation. The Netherlands attracted companies from various sectors such as agriculture, medicine, logistics, finance and sales who wanted to secure their business activities in Europe.

    Netherland Company Registration

    One of the main reasons the Netherlands is so popular as a global destination for business start-ups is the country's economic and political stability. The Netherlands has one of the highest GDP in the European Union (EU)

  12. ODINT Consultancy is an International Business Consultants firm that assists businesses with their international business expansion plans. They provide an all-inclusive consulting service, from INSIGHT to IMPACT.

    It is an International Business Advisor that specializing in International Trade Advisory and Global Market Opportunity Consulting, among other things. We assist you not only in establishing a presence in the Netherlands, but also in establishing the entire business in the global market.

  13. Indian company registeration
    India's economy is one of the world's largest, with great potential. You will be able to access more resources from trusted sources if your company is headquartered in India. Given the low job expenditures and duty benefits, it is one of the most tempting regions for new speculators. Creating a corporation is also a popular communication in India. There are many different sorts of business structures that can be enrolled.
    ODINT Consulting is a firm that is well-versed in the Indian market. We contribute an in-depth analysis of the market, where we provide a variety of services, and we stay current on any new developments.

  14. Establishing a presence in India is key to overcoming cultural alienation, targeting specific emerging markets with huge potential within India, and leaping over bureaucratic hurdles. India still carries plenty of promise as one of the world’s largest economies and consumer markets. It is one of the rare countries that has continued to attract FDI investment even during the pandemic.

    Procedure for Indian company registration

    1. Check Company Name: Use the RUN service on the Ministry of Corporate Affairs website to check Name availability for your company.

    2. Get a Digital Signature Certificate: A digital signature certificate is required for all the directors and subscribers of the Memorandum of Association. Since the Indian company registration process is fully online, one needs a digital signature to sign digital documents on the MCA portal.

    3. Director Identification Number: At least one director of your company must have a DIN number. The DIN number of the proposed director and their address proof is a must to proceed with the Indian company registration.

    4. Registration on the MCA portal: One must fill the SPICe+ INC 32 form for successful registration on the MCA portal. To get this done, the directors of the company have to register themselves on the MCA portal. Once that is done, log in to the MCA portal services and fill all the e-forms you can see for successful registration.

    Why Company Formation in India?

    With the population of over 1.3 billion & per capita GDP of approx. USD 1964.88, India is one of the world’s fastest-growing economies. When you talk about developing economies, India features in the list of the top few countries that cannot be ignored

  15. Singapore company registration

    From getting your company name approved by the ACRA to scouting for local Directors, Corporate Secretaries, or a Singapore address, we can help you in Singapore company registration process and launch your business from scratch with just $1 paid up capital requirements.

    If you’re in India and looking for a break from its heavy-handed ‘inspector-license-raj’ and convoluted taxes, Singapore is the right place to incorporate your company. Why, you might ask?

    For one thing, corporate taxes in India are still at 30% for big-bracket-earners while corporate taxes in Singapore are just 17%.

    Top that with 0% Capital Gains Taxes (15-20% in India)

    0% taxes on Dividend Distribution (now disguised as 10% TDS on dividend income)

    That’s why Flipkart, MobiKon, and MediaLink have incorporated their parent companies in Singapore even as they own 100% shares in their Indian subsidiary.

    How to Register a Company in Singapore

    The Registration Process for a Singapore Company at a Glance
    Choose your Company Name

    Choose your Company Type

    Decide on a Financial Year End

    Appoint Directors, Company Secretary, other Key Personnel

  16. Reading through your blog article is a real excellent experience.
    Thank you for considering readers much like me, and I desire for you the best of achievements being a professional in this field. You can also visit Property Investment in UK - Berkeley Group Middle East

  17. At TutorChamps, we have designed various services to help you with most of your academic questions. As academic courses become more difficult and students have to trick in between choices, homework and assignments, these services will help you manage your studies more easily.

    Visit: TutorChmaps