|Ray, Di, Marcia Judy and Helen and the rest of our|
group gathered around the birthplace of Jesus
As the pilgrims made the short journey from Jerusalem to Bethlehem (about 20 minutes in traffic!) we sang Christmas Carols in preparation for our arriving at the birthplace of Jesus. The Church of the Holy Nativity Bethlehem had a queue (of course) but our Palestinian guide, Ramsi, said we were very lucky to be so near to the front of the queue from the start.
This ancient church is jointly run by the Greek Orthodox, Armenian Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches. The Greeks here have the largest section and you enter the cave of Jesus' birth, which is located under the main sanctuary and to the side. The spot is marked with a silver star and a shrine (very Greek) marks the spot where he laid in the manger. At the time of our visit the church is almost completely enclosed within with scaffolding. This is to do some preliminary photography on the roof which is leaking. The scaffolding will be removed in about a week and then the three churches will begin negotiating how and who pays for the restoration. The last restoration was done in the 15th Century and was sponsored by King Edward IV of England. The 21st Century Restoration should begin after Easter next year.
|Modern fresco in the Church at Shepherds field|
From just outside this church you can look out over the small valley and see Jerusalem on the hill - just like on a Christmas card with the shepherds in the foreground!!
We were then given an opportunity to buy souvenirs from Bethlehem which most seemed keen to do because this supports the minority Christians in Palestine.
|The Garden Tomb|
|Mass in the Garden - Ranji Lal (in the |
background) read the Gospel
|Watercolour of St Georges' Cathedral -view|
from our hotel. Painting by Ray