Christians believe that Jesus was born on Dec. 25 where Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity stands right now! Every year, Bethlehem welcomes millions of visitors from around the world during Christmas. However, during the pandemic, Christmas is sort of gloomy in Bethlehem. On a positive note, the Church of the Nativity has been undergoing renovations, uncovering many works of art, and it isn’t planning on stopping soon.
Celebrating Christmas this year, only hundreds of churchgoers attended the Christmas morning service in Bethlehem’s Church.
The Church of the Nativity was built in the year 339. Since then, it has undergone major restorations, and the most recent ones are definitely noticeable by worshipers who went to church this Christmas. The latest refurbishments unveiled artworks, relics, artifacts, detailed ornamentations, original stonework, lofty ceilings, and a hand-crafted glass lamp.
“Now we can say with confidence that the ceiling will be good for another 1,000 years,” said the CEO of the Bethlehem Development Foundation, Mazen Karam, about the roof of the church.
Bethlehem’s Church has been undergoing restorations since 2013. To achieve that, a lot of people from all over the world and organizations donated money to the Nativity. The Palestinian philanthropist Said Khoury, and President of Palestine Mahmoud Abbas donated half a million dollars to rehabilitate the church.
So far, renovations have cost around $15 million. Moreover, around $2.8 million are needed to restore the Grotto of the church, which is the space where Jesus is believed to have been born.
Many hidden details in the church have been unearthed in the process. There’s a baptismal font hidden under a layer of marble, and an uncovered angel that was masked under plaster. Most importantly, they discovered the original door of the building, which is believed to have been a gift to the Nativity by the Armenian king.
The ceilings of the church have been rehabilitated, as well as pillars, walls and painting. Furthermore, the Bethlehem Church’s 42 windows have been replaced, and 125 square meters of wall mosaics were renovated. It’s official that the works that have been done since 2013 till this day have removed the Nativity from the List of World Heritage in Danger in 2019.
Karam said that those restorations will keep the Bethlehem Church a place of worship and historical curiosity. He also said, “Your visit will help keep it alive as a testimony to the living church and will prevent it from turning into a museum.”