It’s Christmas Day!
Though disappointed for not being able to hear the Christmas Eve mass, everybody started the day in high spirits. We were hoping and was promised by our tour guide that we will be attending a Christmas Day mass.
Our itinerary for today is in line with the occasion, Christmas. We will be exploring Bethlehem and the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem in the afternoon.
After a filling breakfast, we went to the Manger Square, named after the manger where Jesus is said to have been born. This square is an important area in Bethlehem as this is where the Church of the Nativity, believed to be the oldest existing church in the world, the Mosque of Omar, the only mosque in the city, and the Palestinian Peace Center are located.
The Church of the Nativity
It’s such a shame that I left my camera in the tour bus when we went to this church and only had my videocam instead.
This church is believed to be located over the cave that marks the birthplace of Jesus and is the oldest church. It is also the first site in Palestine to be listed in the UNESCO World Heritage Site.
At the Grotto of Nativity beneath the church is a cave believed to be the site of Jesus’ birth. A silver star in the floor marks the spot where Jesus is believed to have been born.
The church enjoys a shared custody between the Roman Catholic, Armenian and Greek Orthodox churches. The main church is maintained by the Greek Orthodox, the Armenian Orthodox maintain the northern transept while the Roman Catholics maintain the site of the manger and the altar next to the Nativity grotto.
The Church of St. Catherine of Alexandria
While the traditional birthplace of Jesus is in the Church of the Nativity, the Christmas Eve mass is held in the adjacent Church of St. Catherine of Alexandria.
The church is said to be built on the site of Christ’s appearance to St. Catherine where her martyrdom was foretold.
Below the church are caves and chambers. One of them is the Cave of St. Jerome who translated the Vulgate version of the Bible.
Not far from the Manger Square is Milk Grotto St. where the Milk Grotto may be seen.
A Franciscan chapel was built over a grotto believed to be the place where a drop of milk of Mary fell when she was nursing Jesus, turning the ground white. The Holy Family is said to have sought refuge in this place during the Slaughter of the Innocents.
Christians and Muslims believe that scrapings from the stones in the grotto is believed to make miracles for new mothers and women who are trying to conceive.
“Milk powder” which is believed to increase the quantity of milk of new mothers and enable women who want to get pregnant, to be pregnant, is available only in the shrine. Testimonials from all over the world are in display.
East of Bethlehem in Beit Sahour lies what is believed to be the fields where the shepherds tending their flocks saw the Star of Nativity.
This is the Chapel of the Angels designed by the Italian architect, Antonio Barluzzi.
This is memorable for us as this is where we heard the Christmas mass, and more meaningful as it was celebrated by a Filipino priest. We were also joined by several other Filipino tourists working in Israel.
Shepherd’s Field Grotto
This grotto is located behind the Chapel of the Angels.
These are views of Bethlehem area as we left Beit Sahour to have lunch in Bethlehem.
Lunch was in Cosmos buffet.
These photos were taken on our way to Jerusalem from Bethlehem.
Church of the Ascension
Now we are in Jerusalem.
This place marks the place where Jesus is said to have ascended to Heaven after 40 days of His resurrection. Today, a mosque has been erected nearby though Christians are allowed to visit the place.
Dominus Flevit Chapel
This is another beautiful church, uniquely shaped like a tear and offering fantastic view of the Old City of Jerusalem, especially the Dome of the Rock. This is located in the western slope of the Mount of Olives.
This church commemorates Jesus weeping over the future fate of Jerusalem (Lk 19:41).
Old City of Jerusalem / Golden Gate
The Mount of Olives offers fantastic view of the Old City of Jerusalem, especially the Dome of the Rock and the Golden Gate,
The oldest of all the gates to the city, the Golden Gate is also the most important and most impressive gate of the Old City of Jerusalem.
This is now a double-sealed gate. The north portal is the Gate of Repentance and the south portal is called the Gate of Mercy. The Jews believe that the Messiah will enter Jerusalem through this gate. The Christians believe that the last entry of Jesus in Jerusalem is through the Gate of Mercy and the Muslims believe that the just will pass this gate on Judgment Day.
Garden of Gethsemane
Located near the foot of Mt. Olives, this is believed to be where Jesus prayed the night before he was crucified.
A study made shows that several olive trees in the garden are among the oldest known to science.
Church of All Nations
This church is built over a rock believed to be where Jesus prayed the night before he was crucified. It is located adjacent to the Garden of Gethsemane.
The church is called the Church of all Nations because a lot of countries contributed funds for its construction.
Grotto of the Betrayal
This place is believed to be where Jesus was arrested after the betrayal of Judas and where he left his disciples before heading to the rock to pray alone.
Tomb of Mary and the Church of Assumption
A church is built at the place believed to be where the tomb of Mary is. It is believed that Mary ascended into heaven.
On 6th day, we will be exploring Palestine and Dead Sea! Will I float? Find out in my next post!