Today Pope Francis celebrates Mass in Bethlehem and pays a private visit to the grotto of the Nativity.
These photos show, first, the centre of Bethlehem, with views across Manger Square, away from the Basilica of the Nativity:
Views of the interior of the 6th Century Basilica
And then the grottos under the Basilica, first that which was used by St Jerome during his stay there, while working on the Vulgate translation of the scriptures.
And finally the grotto of the Nativity itself, with the star under the altar indicating by tradition the place where the Word was born, where Jesus Christ was born of Mary.
Bethlehem today is a town proud of its heritage but kept from most of the Palestinian people by the travel restrictions imposed by Israel. The justification was found in the acts of terrorism by Palestinians against Israelis. Other nations are not prepared to respond to…
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