Divine discoveries in holy land

Divine discoveries in holy land

Submitted by alvin on Tue, 2016-07-12 12:29 View of Bethlehem When I expressed a desire to visit Bethlehem (literal meaning House of Bread), the first thing my Jerusalem host told me about Bethlehem was that it was located in Palestine and not in Israel. Seeing the disappointment on my face, he said I could visit the holy town by showing my passport at the border control. From there buses and taxies would take me to Bethlehem, he informed me. I hired a taxi to Bethlehem, just 10 kms away. Only taxies with special permits can enter Bethlehem from Israel. As a result, the fares are quite high. As my taxi crossed a deep valley and climbed the mountain, a huge concrete wall came into sight. This is the wall that divides Israel and Palestine, the driver said. He said Bethlehem was at a higher elevation than Jerusalem and in the southern portion of Judean Mountains. Door of humility Alter of nativity As our taxi stopped at the border control, a few gun wielding policemen came to our taxi and asked me for my passport. The taxi was subjected to a thorough security check. After they were convinced that I am a genuine tourist, they let us in. After a ten minute drive, the taxi stopped in front of a stone staircase.  The driver-cum-guide asked me to wait on top of the staircase. As I climbed up, I noticed a huge square with a big mosque from where Muslims devotees were coming out after their prayers. Soon, my guide joined me and asked me to follow him.  He led me to a huge stone building directly opposite the mosque. I saw a small opening on the stone wall of this building. This opening is called “Door of Humility”, said my guide. On entering, we were inside a big church. Known as “Church of the Nativity”, this church was built in 327 AD by Constantine the Great. Damaged in 529 AD, the church was rebuilt in 630 AD by Emperor Justinian. It is one of the oldest surviving Christian churches in the world. The church has huge wooden pillars on both sides. The mosaic flooring of the church done in 4th century has been preserved. The icon of Jesus and Mary under the church is noteworthy. St Catherine church Manger Square The significance of this church is that it is built over the cave considered to be the birth place of Jesus Christ. “This church is revered both by Christians and Muslims alike,” my guide said. When I asked him to show the birthplace of Lord Jesus, I was led into a passage which took us to an underground cave. In this small cave, I saw an alcove decorated with nice looking curtains and lights. My guide said, “This is the place where Jesus was born.” The exact spot of Jesus Christ’s birth is beneath this altar. A 14-pointed Silver Star bearing a Latin inscription “Here Jesus Christ was born to the Virgin Mary-1717” is on the marble floor and is surrounded by 15 silver lamps.  This altar is known as the “Altar of The Nativity”. I said my prayers and again entered the Church of Nativity. Adjacent to the Nativity Church is the “Church of Saint Catherine”, built in Gothic style in the 15th Century. wall between israel