December 31, 2011

OAT Israel: Bethlehem

Since the Palestinian National Authority governs Bethlehem, we were told to bring out passports - but we were never asked to show them.  
Our first stop was to visit the Church of Nativity considered to be the oldest continuously operating church in the world. It was commissioned by Constantine and his mother Helena in 327 CE.  Helena identified this site as the birthplace of Jesus. 
This silver star marks where Jesus was born. 
 The 4th century mosaic floor was rediscovered in 1934.
We then travelled a short distance to Beit Sahour to visit the two Churches of Shepherd's Field where an angel announced the birth of Jesus to the shepherds:
One is Catholic

The other is a modern Greek Orthodox Church built in 1972 over a restored 4th century lower church and near excavations of a Byzantine church destroyed in 614.    

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