off course when being at the birthplace of Jesus Christ and on a Christian Pilgrimage, what better way than to experience being here is by celebrating mass just a few feet away from the traditional manger where Jesus was born is definitely priceless for a Christian!
Inside the Church of Saint Catherine are a large church and below are a complex of caves and rock-cut chambers of which Roman Catholic Pilgrims can celebrate mass lying just a few feet away from the traditional cave (or manger) where Jesus Christ Was Born in the Grotto of the Nativity. In the rock formation below include the Cave of St Jerome, who translated the Vulgate version of the Bible; St Joseph’s Chapel, recalling the dream in which an angel warned Joseph to take the Holy Family to Egypt; and the Chapel of the Holy Innocents, commemorating the children massacred by Herod. And this is where we had our mass.
If you are a Roman Catholic and believe that the whitish stones found at the caves under the Milk Grotto Church are from the Milk Drops of the Virgin Mary on this site while the holy couple were leaving fro egypt during the holy innocents massacre by king herod, then you would buy the rock powder with the special marian prayer here from the franciscan Milk Grotto Church and the friars sell the rock powder for NIS 10 per piece of the rock powder, enclosed in plastic and with a prayer.
you can oly buy them at the milk grotto church and not from the shops outside.
North East of Bethlehem in the Judean desert is to be found the extraordinary Mar Saba monastery, the biggest of the Judean monasteries. As was recognised centuries ago - to farm east of Bethlehem was madness in the arid, inhospitable desert - but perfect for monastic retreats!
Mar Saba is a 5th century monastery built on the steep cliff face of the Kidron Creek (the same creek as the temple mount and Mount of Olives in Jerusalem), named after Saint Sabas, a Cappadocian monk who lived in a cave near to the site of the monastery. He helped establish many of the monasteries in the desert, with Mar Saba itself growing into the largest (it is believed that its genesis is as a 'laura monastery' - ie a centre at weekends and feasts for reclusives living in spiritual seclusion in the region). Over the centuries, it has been expanded and fortified (particularly by the Crusaders in the 12th century), faced as it has been by a number of raids. It suffered enormous damage in an early 19th century earthquake, but was restored in 1840 by the Russian Orthodox church.
One of the oldest monasteries in the world is founded by St. Sabas of Cappadocia, Turkey, in 5th century. In monastery had also lived St. John of Damascus, whose religious works are considered as immense, well-founded, incontrovertible.
Women are not allowed to entry to monastery but it is still worth visiting because of the breath-taking views of the Kidron Gorge and the monastery cliffed in it...
To reach the monastery you must go by a car or to hire a route taxi since the road is not suitable for buses. This is the same road leading to St. Theodosius monastery. Mar Sabas monastery is located 15.4km away from Bethlehem. During the whole journey you enjoy the views of the Desert of Judaea..
working time: Sunday-Thursday: 8am - 4pm
The center of Christianity moved from Egypt to the Holy Land in the second half of 5th century. Near Bethlehem there are three monasteries that were established at that period.
St. Theodosius was born in Cappadocia, Turkey in 432. After he came to Bethlehem he found the cave where the three Wise Men stayed for a night after they had left Bethlehem and where God warned them in their dream not to return to Herod but rather to leave to their country by another way: 'And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.' (Mattew, 2:12).
In 476 St. Theodosius founded a monastery on the place of the cave. The monastery had four churches, the services were given in four languages (Greek, Georgian, Armenian and Slavic) and there were 693 monks living there.
Nowadays Greek Orthodox Monastery was built in the turn of 20th century and the church dates back to 1952.
You may visit the cave where the remains of St. Theodosius and of some other saints rest in peace.
al-Ubediyeh, 10km away from Bethlehem, road to Beit Sahour, bus No 60 from Bethlehem Bus Station
The monastery at the Shepherds' Field is located in the village of Beit Sahour, about 1km east from Bethlehem. The old church was built on the cave where the shepherds stayed for the night when an angel proclaimed the birth of Jesus Christ:
"The Shepherds and the Angels
8And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ[a] the Lord. 12This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."
13Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
14"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."
The place was used as a shelter for shepherds then a tomb for the shelters. In 325 St. Helena built a church there. The mosaics and other remains from the church of St. Helena still can be seen there. There are also several very old olive trees, some of them at the age of more than 2000 years according to the locals.
Beside this Orthodox monastery at the Shepherds' Field, there is also a Franciscan church at the Shepherds' Field nearby.