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Church Of The Nativity

The Basilica of the Nativity in Bethlehem in importance is equated to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem and included in the UNESCO world heritage list. This is one of the main Christian pilgrimage sites in the Holy Land. According to legend it was built on the site of the birth of Christ.

The first temple was built on the site of the cave of the Nativity on the orders of the Byzantine Emperor Constantine the Great in 330-ies and consecrated in 339, the Basilica is unique because it is the only continuously operating Christian Church since pre-Islamic times.

The Church miraculously survived during the invasion of the Persians in the 7th century. According to legend, the soldiers saw on the wall of the Basilica the image of the Magi worshipping the Baby Jesus, and leaves the temple, because the Magi in mosaics were in Persian robes. Later during the Muslim invasions, the temple is also not affected, since it is revered as the birthplace of the prophet ISA. In the 12th century, Saladin gave the Church the Syrian Orthodox Church, expelling the Roman Ministers. In 1834, the Church suffered from earthquakes, and in 1839 - from a fire and was later restored.

The size of the Basilica is 53 27 m. It is built of hewn stone. The main entrance to the temple - Gate of Humility - a very low and narrow: 120 by 80 cm, so that anyone who enters is forced to bend. It is both protection in ancient times from the horseback riders and a call to worship the Shrine. Inside the nave divides the colonnade of 10 columns, one of which depicts the face of the Savior. Depending on the angle the face appears open, then with eyes closed. The floor is decorated with mosaic, they cover them with wooden boards, which are periodically removed for inspection by visitors. Under the pulpit lies the cave of the Nativity, where are two staircases. The birthplace of Jesus marked by a silver star on which the lamps burn always. In the Church there is the chapel of the Manger - the place where according to tradition the virgin Mary laid the newborn Baby in a manger for animals, because he had no crib. In the Basilica of Bethlehem is a revered icon of the virgin. Mary is a picture of a smiling unlike the other icons, where the face of the sad, serious or touches.

Now the Basilica of the Nativity is under the joint control of three churches: the Jerusalem Orthodox, Armenian Apostolic and Roman Catholic.