Bethlehem Things to Do

  • Things to Do
    by call_me_rhia
  • Inside Church of Nativity
    Inside Church of Nativity
    by Bavavia
  • Spot marking birth of Jesus.
    Spot marking birth of Jesus.
    by Bavavia

Most Recent Things to Do in Bethlehem

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    Church of the Nativity

    by antistar Updated Mar 11, 2014

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    Corinthian columns, Church of the Nativity
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    On Christmas day there were still hundreds, perhaps maybe a thousand, pilgrims in the town, in spite of the recent troubles. On other years tens of thousands have passed through during the Christmas period. In a sea of political tension, the mood at the Church was warm, joyous and exalting. It's a hard and difficult trip to Bethlehem, and some people had obviously come much further than me, like the South American guitar players, so the mood was very upbeat. People were just glad to have made it.

    Outside the Church people sang and danced. Inside the Church, in the adjoining Church of St. Catherine, people prayed. It was such a moving experience, to be there, on Christmas Day, with so many devoted people, that I was compelled to join in myself. That's not something I've done for many years, but it felt completely natural. It's hard to think where else I will get closer to my Christian spiritual roots than Christmas Day in Bethlehem.

    Over the years the famous Church has become a large complex, consisting of two churches and the Grotto itself, the exact place where Jesus is believed to have been born. The main Basilica of the Nativity, with its distinctive Corinthian columns, can be entered through the tiny Door of Humility, which I had to stoop down to enter. At the center of the church there is a trap door, which, when opened, exposes the original mosaic floor.

    As well as being a place of ancient history, the Church also became a place of tragic modern history when it found itself a haven for about 200 Palestinians in 2002. After the Israeli Defence Forces entered the city, a large number of Palestinians, whom the IDF claimed were militants, fled to the church and were given sanctuary by the priests there. Nine Palestinians and the church bell ringer died in the following siege. A fire was also started, damaging the church, which a PBS report blamed on a smoke grenade thrown by the IDF.

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    Church of the Nativity: Grotto of the Nativity

    by machomikemd Written Sep 30, 2013
    the star
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    this will be tip and pictures of the Small Grotto of the Nativity situated below the main altar of the Church of the Nativity where the Traditional site of Jesus Birth is marked by the Star and the Manger of the Nativity beside it, where Jesus was placed in a makeshift bed by the Virgin Mary. the line going to the Grotto can take hours specially if it is the roman catholic or greek orthodox holy week (based on different dates as each follow a different calendar) and during Christmas eve and Christmas Day.

    The Church of the Nativity is the star attraction of Bethlehem and is the reason for the vibrant tourist and Christian Pilgrims from all over the world who congregate to this little town. It is also a Unesco World Heritage Site. The Church of the Nativity was built and demolished several times since Saint Helena in 326 AD founded the Church, which was finished in 339 and after that if has gone into sevel demolitions and reconstructions, depending on who was in control of Bethlehem Then. The Church of the Nativity is a large complex that doubles as a fortress too and the complex is jointly managed by the Roman Catholic Church, Greek Orthodox Church and the Armenian Apostolic Church of which each Group has quarters in the Church of the Nativity (of which the Greek Orthodox have the main Altar and Apse of the Church and the Armenian Apostolics, the Armenian Altars of The Three Kings and Virgin Mary and the Church of Saint Catherine for the Roman Catholics.

    The Church of the Nativity Complex is divided into the Door of Humility (the small entrance to the church), the main hall with 44 columns with assorted crusader era paintings, the Church of Saint Catherine beside it, the various Caves and Chapels underground of Saint Catherine's Church, the floor mosaics underneath the main apse, the main church altar, where the Greek Orthodox say they masses and the main attraction is the Grotto of the Nativity underneath the Church, where a neutral silver star with a hole filled with Armenian Apostilic Incense pin points the exact site where Jesus was Born and beside it is the Chapel of the Manger, the spot where the Virgin Mary put the Baby Jesus in a makeshift bed.

    Opens: 8:00 am to 5:00 pm everyday

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    Church of the Nativity: Main Altar & Side Chapels

    by machomikemd Written Sep 30, 2013
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    this will be tips and pictures of the main altar of the Church of the Nativity, which is under the control of the Greek Orthodox Church and the side Chapels on each side of the main altar (altar to the three kings and Virgin Mary), which are under the Custody of the Armenian Apostolic Church.

    The Church of the Nativity is the star attraction of Bethlehem and is the reason for the vibrant tourist and Christian Pilgrims from all over the world who congregate to this little town. It is also a Unesco World Heritage Site. The Church of the Nativity was built and demolished several times since Saint Helena in 326 AD founded the Church, which was finished in 339 and after that if has gone into sevel demolitions and reconstructions, depending on who was in control of Bethlehem Then. The Church of the Nativity is a large complex that doubles as a fortress too and the complex is jointly managed by the Roman Catholic Church, Greek Orthodox Church and the Armenian Apostolic Church of which each Group has quarters in the Church of the Nativity (of which the Greek Orthodox have the main Altar and Apse of the Church and the Armenian Apostolics, the Armenian Altars of The Three Kings and Virgin Mary and the Church of Saint Catherine for the Roman Catholics.

    The Church of the Nativity Complex is divided into the Door of Humility (the small entrance to the church), the main hall with 44 columns with assorted crusader era paintings, the Church of Saint Catherine beside it, the various Caves and Chapels underground of Saint Catherine's Church, the floor mosaics underneath the main apse, the main church altar, where the Greek Orthodox say they masses and the main attraction is the Grotto of the Nativity underneath the Church, where a neutral silver star with a hole filled with Armenian Apostilic Incense pin points the exact site where Jesus was Born and beside it is the Chapel of the Manger, the spot where the Virgin Mary put the Baby Jesus in a makeshift bed.

    Opens: 8:00 am to 5:00 pm everyday

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    Church of the Nativity: Main Apse and Columns

    by machomikemd Written Sep 30, 2013
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    This will be tips and pictures of some of the 44 main columns inside the Church of the Nativity decorated with Crusader era Paintings of the Holy Family and the floor mosaics being shown among the wooden trap doors in the Church.

    The Church of the Nativity is the star attraction of Bethlehem and is the reason for the vibrant tourist and Christian Pilgrims from all over the world who congregate to this little town. It is also a Unesco World Heritage Site. The Church of the Nativity was built and demolished several times since Saint Helena in 326 AD founded the Church, which was finished in 339 and after that if has gone into sevel demolitions and reconstructions, depending on who was in control of Bethlehem Then. The Church of the Nativity is a large complex that doubles as a fortress too and the complex is jointly managed by the Roman Catholic Church, Greek Orthodox Church and the Armenian Apostolic Church of which each Group has quarters in the Church of the Nativity (of which the Greek Orthodox have the main Altar and Apse of the Church and the Armenian Apostolics, the Armenian Altars of The Three Kings and Virgin Mary and the Church of Saint Catherine for the Roman Catholics.

    The Church of the Nativity Complex is divided into the Door of Humility (the small entrance to the church), the main hall with 44 columns with assorted crusader era paintings, the Church of Saint Catherine beside it, the various Caves and Chapels underground of Saint Catherine's Church, the floor mosaics underneath the main apse, the main church altar, where the Greek Orthodox say they masses and the main attraction is the Grotto of the Nativity underneath the Church, where a neutral silver star with a hole filled with Armenian Apostilic Incense pin points the exact site where Jesus was Born and beside it is the Chapel of the Manger, the spot where the Virgin Mary put the Baby Jesus in a makeshift bed.

    Opens: 8:00 am to 5:00 pm everyday

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    Church of the Nativity: Door of Humility

    by machomikemd Written Sep 30, 2013
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    The Main Entrance to the Church of the Nativity is a small door that leads to a bigger wooden doors and finally to the Main Apse and Altar of the the Church. was created in Ottoman times to prevent carts being driven in by looters, and to force even the most important visitor to dismount from his horse as he entered the holy place. The doorway was reduced from an earlier Crusader doorway, the pointed arch of which can still be seen above the current door. The outline of the Justinian square entrance can also be seen above the door. If you have problems of entering the door, you can enter the Church of the Nativity via the Bigger entrance to Saint Helena Church beside it and then via a slightly bigger side door (slightly bigger than the door of humility) to the Church of the Nativity.

    The Church of the Nativity is the star attraction of Bethlehem and is the reason for the vibrant tourist and Christian Pilgrims from all over the world who congregate to this little town. It is also a Unesco World Heritage Site. The Church of the Nativity was built and demolished several times since Saint Helena in 326 AD founded the Church, which was finished in 339 and after that if has gone into sevel demolitions and reconstructions, depending on who was in control of Bethlehem Then. The Church of the Nativity is a large complex that doubles as a fortress too and the complex is jointly managed by the Roman Catholic Church, Greek Orthodox Church and the Armenian Apostolic Church of which each Group has quarters in the Church of the Nativity (of which the Greek Orthodox have the main Altar and Apse of the Church and the Armenian Apostolics, the Armenian Altars of The Three Kings and Virgin Mary and the Church of Saint Catherine for the Roman Catholics.

    The Church of the Nativity Complex is divided into the Door of Humility (the small entrance to the church), the main hall with 44 columns with assorted crusader era paintings, the Church of Saint Catherine beside it, the various Caves and Chapels underground of Saint Catherine's Church, the floor mosaics underneath the main apse, the main church altar, where the Greek Orthodox say they masses and the main attraction is the Grotto of the Nativity underneath the Church, where a neutral silver star with a hole filled with Armenian Apostilic Incense pin points the exact site where Jesus was Born and beside it is the Chapel of the Manger, the spot where the Virgin Mary put the Baby Jesus in a makeshift bed.

    Opens: 8:00 am to 5:00 pm everyday

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    Church of the Nativity: Overview

    by machomikemd Written Sep 30, 2013
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    this will be a multi part tip of the Church of the Nativity

    The Church of the Nativity is the star attraction of Bethlehem and is the reason for the vibrant tourist and Christian Pilgrims from all over the world who congregate to this little town. It is also a Unesco World Heritage Site. The Church of the Nativity was built and demolished several times since Saint Helena in 326 AD founded the Church, which was finished in 339 and after that if has gone into sevel demolitions and reconstructions, depending on who was in control of Bethlehem Then. The Church of the Nativity is a large complex that doubles as a fortress too and the complex is jointly managed by the Roman Catholic Church, Greek Orthodox Church and the Armenian Apostolic Church of which each Group has quarters in the Church of the Nativity (of which the Greek Orthodox have the main Altar and Apse of the Church and the Armenian Apostolics, the Armenian Altars of The Three Kings and Virgin Mary and the Church of Saint Catherine for the Roman Catholics.

    The Church of the Nativity Complex is divided into the Door of Humility (the small entrance to the church), the main hall with 44 columns with assorted crusader era paintings, the Church of Saint Catherine beside it, the various Caves and Chapels underground of Saint Catherine's Church, the floor mosaics underneath the main apse, the main church altar, where the Greek Orthodox say they masses and the main attraction is the Grotto of the Nativity underneath the Church, where a neutral silver star with a hole filled with Armenian Apostilic Incense pin points the exact site where Jesus was Born and beside it is the Chapel of the Manger, the spot where the Virgin Mary put the Baby Jesus in a makeshift bed.

    Opens: 8:00 am to 5:00 pm everyday

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    • Historical Travel
    • Architecture

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    Church of Saint Catherine: the caves

    by machomikemd Written Sep 28, 2013
    for mass
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    this will be my pictures around the caves and rock formations under the church which lies just a few feet away from the grotto of the nativity.

    The Church of Saint Catherine is just beside the Church of the Nativity, in fact, they are connected by a small doorway an is part of the Larger Church of the Nativity Complex. And while the Church of the Nativity is under the control of the Greek Orthodox Church, the Church of Saint Catherine is under the Control of the Franciscan order of the Roman Catholic Church. The church is said to be built on the site of Christ's appearance to St. Catherine of Alexandria and his prediction of her martyrdom (she is buried at the Saint Catherine Monastery in Mount Sinai, Egypt) and the Church was built upon the remains of a 12th century crusader monastery beside the Church of the Nativity and was erected in the 15th century by the franciscans and enlarged in 1881 with the help of the emperor of Austria and was remodeled in the 1950's with the help of the famed Franciscan Italian Architect Antonio Barluzzi.

    It is here where the Christmas Eve Mass is performed by the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem (the Bishop head of Roman Catholics in Israel and Palestine) and is beamed live all over the world during december 24rth of each year (orthodox christians follow the Julian Calendar hence Christmas Eve Mass is on January 6 of each year).

    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.

    Open: Apr-Sep 6am-7.30pm, Oct-Mar 5.30am-5pm (grottos closed on Sunday mornings)

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    Church of Saint Catherine: Inside

    by machomikemd Written Sep 28, 2013
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    this will be my pictures of the church proper, where the latin patriarch says the christmas eve mass.

    The Church of Saint Catherine is just beside the Church of the Nativity, in fact, they are connected by a small doorway an is part of the Larger Church of the Nativity Complex. And while the Church of the Nativity is under the control of the Greek Orthodox Church, the Church of Saint Catherine is under the Control of the Franciscan order of the Roman Catholic Church. The church is said to be built on the site of Christ's appearance to St. Catherine of Alexandria and his prediction of her martyrdom (she is buried at the Saint Catherine Monastery in Mount Sinai, Egypt) and the Church was built upon the remains of a 12th century crusader monastery beside the Church of the Nativity and was erected in the 15th century by the franciscans and enlarged in 1881 with the help of the emperor of Austria and was remodeled in the 1950's with the help of the famed Franciscan Italian Architect Antonio Barluzzi.

    It is here where the Christmas Eve Mass is performed by the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem (the Bishop head of Roman Catholics in Israel and Palestine) and is beamed live all over the world during december 24rth of each year (orthodox christians follow the Julian Calendar hence Christmas Eve Mass is on January 6 of each year).

    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.

    Open: Apr-Sep 6am-7.30pm, Oct-Mar 5.30am-5pm (grottos closed on Sunday mornings)

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    Church of Saint Catherine: Courtyard

    by machomikemd Updated Sep 28, 2013
    front of church and courtyard
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    this will be my pictures of the front and courtyard of the church

    The Church of Saint Catherine is just beside the Church of the Nativity, in fact, they are connected by a small doorway an is part of the Larger Church of the Nativity Complex. And while the Church of the Nativity is under the control of the Greek Orthodox Church, the Church of Saint Catherine is under the Control of the Franciscan order of the Roman Catholic Church. The church is said to be built on the site of Christ's appearance to St. Catherine of Alexandria and his prediction of her martyrdom (she is buried at the Saint Catherine Monastery in Mount Sinai, Egypt) and the Church was built upon the remains of a 12th century crusader monastery beside the Church of the Nativity and was erected in the 15th century by the franciscans and enlarged in 1881 with the help of the emperor of Austria and was remodeled in the 1950's with the help of the famed Franciscan Italian Architect Antonio Barluzzi.

    It is here where the Christmas Eve Mass is performed by the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem (the Bishop head of Roman Catholics in Israel and Palestine) and is beamed live all over the world during december 24rth of each year (orthodox christians follow the Julian Calendar hence Christmas Eve Mass is on January 6 of each year).

    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.

    Open: Apr-Sep 6am-7.30pm, Oct-Mar 5.30am-5pm (grottos closed on Sunday mornings)

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    Milk Grotto Church 2

    by machomikemd Written Sep 28, 2013
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    Part two of of milk grotto tips with more pictures inside.

    The milk grotto is a Roman Catholic Grotto with a Chapel topside which is under the custody of the Francisan Order. The site is sacred as it is purpoted to be the site that the holy family hid during the slaughter of the of the Innocents that King Herod ordered then to destroy the Messiah. and while feeding the baby Jesus Christ, a drop of milk fell to the ground and the ground became white. the site is just beside the Church of the Nativity, lying parallel to the huge church. the grotto sits on a previous 5th century byzantine church and The Franciscans erected a church around the Milk Grotto in 1872 and extended a chapel in the underground grotto in 2007. expectant mothers also bought the Milk Grotto stone fragments with Prayer and you can buy them in the front of the Chapel above at 10 NIS per pack. (see my milk grotto powder tips at the off the beaten path).

    Open: 8am-5pm (Sun closed noon-2pm)

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    Milk Grotto Church 1

    by machomikemd Written Sep 28, 2013
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    this will be a two part tip with more pictures around the Grotto.

    The milk grotto is a Roman Catholic Grotto with a Chapel topside which is under the custody of the Francisan Order. The site is sacred as it is purpoted to be the site that the holy family hid during the slaughter of the of the Innocents that King Herod ordered then to destroy the Messiah. and while feeding the baby Jesus Christ, a drop of milk fell to the ground and the ground became white. the site is just beside the Church of the Nativity, lying parallel to the huge church. the grotto sits on a previous 5th century byzantine church and The Franciscans erected a church around the Milk Grotto in 1872 and extended a chapel in the underground grotto in 2007. expectant mothers also bought the Milk Grotto stone fragments with Prayer and you can buy them in the front of the Chapel above at 10 NIS per pack. (see my milk grotto powder tips at the off the beaten path).

    Open: 8am-5pm (Sun closed noon-2pm)

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    The Bethlehem Separation Barrier

    by machomikemd Updated Sep 27, 2013
    leila khaled
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    If The Lord Jesus was born at the present, then there will be no Christmas in Bethlehem nor would Joseph and Mary could go to Bethlehem for the registration required for the census and the Virgin Mary would not give birth at the traditional Manger. Plus the 3 Magi could not go to Bethlehem to honor Jesus due to the Separation Barrier.

    The west bank is a mish mash of separation barriers between Israel and Palestine and a point o contention of both parties and is a source of conflict in the middle east.

    there are various art and grafitti lining the separation Barier at the Bethlehem side which you can see like scenes of the Intifada and the Poster Girl of Palestinian Nationalism (or Terrorism, depending on which side is talking) Leila Khaled.

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    Mosque of Omar

    by machomikemd Written Sep 26, 2013

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    It is ironic that Bethlehem is now a Muslim Majority Town but it only has one mosque. The Only mosque of Bethlehem is the Mosque of Omar, situated just a stone's throw away from the Church of the Nativity across Manger Square. The Mosque was built by the in the late 1800's in 1860 to commemorate one of the Rashidum (holy men after mohammed) of the Umayyad Caliphate, Omar Ibn Al Kattab (also was head of the Umayyad Caliphate at that time), who traveled to bethlehem in the 6th century to issue a law that would guarantee respect for the shrine and safety for Christians and clergy in it , and, in order to keep the Christian site intact, he instituted the Pact of Omar preventing Muslim prayer assemblies at the church. The Mosque is the site where he prayed. The land where the Mosque was built was donated by the Greek Patriarch of Jerusalem in the 1850's.

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    Manger Square

    by machomikemd Written Sep 26, 2013

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    The Huge Manger Square is located at the front of the Church of the Nativity and across from the Church is the Mosque of Omar and beside the commercial establishments around the square is the Municipal Office and Peace Center of the Palestinian Authority of Bethlehem. Manger Square is popular the world over as the site of Christmas Celebrations of Christians on the 24th of December eve (Othodox Christians Celebrate Theirs on January 7). The Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem and the Armenian Apostolic Church follow the Julian Calendar liturgically, whereas the Roman Catholic Church follows the modern Gregorian Calendar. Thus Christmas Eve services for the Eastern and Western confessions are held on different days. On Christmas Eve, the square is alive with many Christian Pilgrims and locals singing christmas carols.

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    Shepherd's Field Helena Cave (Roman Catholic)

    by machomikemd Written Sep 21, 2013

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    This will be my tips and pictures of Restored Cave Like Chapel inside the Roman Catholic Part of the Biblical Sheperd's Fields in the Town of Bait Sahour, which was built among the ruins of a Byzantine Church by Saint Helena. It is 3 kilometers south from Nativity Square in Bethlehem. There are actually two competing sites and the other site is under the custody of the Greek Orthodox Church.

    On the Roman Catholic Part of the Shepherd's Field in Beit Sahour, there is a large chapel and a cave of which there are ruins of an ancient Byzantine Church where Saint Helena built and upon the church ruins are the cave where there are Dioramas of the Shepherd's field with nativity scenes. The Cave and the Chapel are under the Custody of the Franciscan Order of the Roman Catholic Church. There is also a large chapel at the front of the Cave where you can sing Christmas Carols like silent night as the Chapel has a high dome with good acoustics.

    Catholic Shepherds' Fields Church:
    Mornings Daily — 8:00 am - 11:30 am
    Afternoons Daily — 2:30 pm - 5 pm

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