The present church was built by the Emperor Justinian after the destruction of 529. An emergency such as a fire caused by the damp wiring in the building could result in heavy casualties as visitors struggle to escape.Its nave has four arcades of eleven pillars each, in place of Constantine’s ten in each arcade. The drawing shows the three successive doorways, as they are now visible.In my three months in occupied Palestine, he is the only person I meet who takes notice.
Bethlehem is a Palestinian city, located in the West Bank in Palestine, about 10 km to the south of Jerusalem, with a population of approximately 30,000 inhabitants.
Bethlehem is the center of culture and tourism in Palestine, since it is identified by Christian tradition as the birthplace of Jesus.
As a result of the Oslo peace process, the Palestinians were able to establish their own quasi-government.
Under this regime the Christian Arabs in these territories have been victims of frequent human rights abuses including intimidation, beatings, land theft, firebombing of churches and other Christian institutions, denial of employment, economic boycott, torture, kidnapping, forced marriage, sexual harassment, and extortion.
“Mary rode on top of the donkey at the end of her pregnancy - and I asked myself, what are the chances that the baby would still be alive if she rode all the way to Bethlehem in Judea [West Bank]? And then there are the remains of a once-grand church uncovered here dating back to the Byzantine era.
The Church of Nativity in Bethlehem is the only major church in the Holy Land that survives intact from the early Christian period. It has been replaced many times, notably in 1480, when Edward IV of England supplied the lead, and his sister, the Duchess of Burgundy, gave the wood while Venice provided the craftsmen.
There are no stalls selling toffee apples, no gaudy lights or decorations.
Instead of a nativity play, posters advertise a pantomime by 'Kofiko the monkey and friends’.
With Mary nine months pregnant, they could have reached the Galilean Bethlehem in just under three hours.