Entrance to the Church of the Nativity
Today I spent the entire morning at the Church of the Nativity. What an amazing experience! Like millions of pilgrims before, I arrived at the special place of pilgrimage and bowed my head to enter the small door. The door to the church is only about 4 feet high and is known as the “Door of Humility”. Everyone must bend down to enter. There is of course the spiritual significance of this action, but I’m told that it was also done for practical reasons as the door used to be much larger and soldiers would ride their horsed into the church.
The Door of Humility
Once inside, the church itself is not particularly impressive. The architecture is quite a mix of things and it is, for the most part, unornamented. There are openings in the floors that reveal the original mosaic floor from the 4th century. The main altar is used primary by the Greek Orthodox. It and the iconostasis were a gift from Russia. There are also remnants of a few mosaics on the walls. The church has seen many changes over the years, but remains very old by any standard.
Inside the Church of the Nativity
The most important part of the church, of course, has nothing to do with the architecture or how it looks. Right below the main sanctuary you are able to descend into the cave where Jesus was born. I will devote a future entry to my reflections on this site and will just show some pictures for now. Needless to say, this was a powerful experience. Since we will be here for 4 weeks, I’m sure I will return often.
Me at the Birthplace of Jesus
In the cave there is a star marking the place where Jesus was born. It says simply “Hic de Mariae Virginae Jesus Christus Natus Est…Here of Mary the Virgin Jesus Christ Was Born”. I can’t begin to describe what it’s like to read that and know the “here” really means “right HERE”. Again, more on that later.
Star Marking the Birthplace of Jesus
Not far from the star marking the place of Jesus’ birth is the spot where the manger was in which Mary put Jesus to sleep. I am almost out of time for today. So I will write more later. If you’d like to see all the pictures I took today please look and I’ll update some captions for them as I go explaining what everything is. This place is amazing!