MILK GROTTO CHURCH OF THE VIRGIN MARY IN BETHLEHEM

MAGHARET AL SAYIDA MARIAM - GROTTO OF MARY MOTHER OF JESUS



This page is devoted to the Church of the Milk Grotto, in Bethlehem, a place traditionally described as the site where the Virgin Mary stopped to breast feed the Baby Jesus during the flight to Egypt. "And after the wise men departed, behold an angel of the Lord appeared in sleep to Joseph, saying Arise, and take the child and his mother and fly into Egypt: and be there until I shall tell thee. For it will come to pass that Herod will seek the child to destroy him." Matthew II 13-19. A legend recalls how Mary spilt some milk while breast feeding baby Jesus thus turning the stone of this cave a "white stone" color. The church was built on this site and contains the "white stone rock"The powdery substance of this rock is evident to this very day. In Bethlehem this church has for long centuries been a traditional devotional site; the church which known as "Magharet el Saiyidee" in Arabic meaning The Grotto of our Lady, can be found southeast of the Basilica of the Nativity, this church is frequently visited by local women, Christians and Moslems alike, to ask for the intercession of Mary Mother of Jesus. For an account of Mary and Joseph flight into Egypt read this document as excerpted from Otto Meinardus book entitled "Holy Family In Egypt". For further more information and the open hours of the church please visit the The Palestinian Ministry of Tourism & Antiquities

This church was built by St. Paula, who lived in Bethlehem and died there in 404 A.D., this church was naturally dedicated to the Virgin Mary, but at one time was called St. Paula (either by mistake by the builder or for one of the numerous other churches built in Bethlehem by St. Paula). In the 14th Century this church was known as the Church of St. Nicholas, as shown in a Papal Bull of Gregory XI in 1375, authorizing the Franciscans to rebuild it, which was not then done. The Franciscans first took possession of the church sometime after 1347 after they became caretakers of the Sanctuary of the Nativity. The soft white stones in this church were exported to many European churches under the name of The Virgin's Milk. It was one of these relics that Gerard III, Bishop of Bethlehem, took to the camp of King Baldwin III during the siege of Ascalon in 1153.

The present building around the Grotto was put up by the Franciscans in 1872, some of the old church mosaics and traces of original walls remain to this day. The church was extensively rebuilt, remodeled, and adorned with marble and hand cut sculptures, benches, icons, and engravings by Issa A. Michael Hazboun and sons in 1934-1935. Another tradition going back to the VII century is located at this site and is the burial place of the innocent children which were the victims killed by Herod the Great after Jesus' birth.
The pictures shown below are brought to you courteousy of the Christus Rex Web site and Fr. Peter F. Vasko, president of the Francsican Foundation for the Holy Land and Ms. Madeleine Hazboun and Helen & Henry Salem. If you have more sources, pictures, documents, history, reference, or biographical information dealing with the Milk Grotto Church please email our webmaster and send us your information


Pictures

Click on any small picture to enlarge

Front entrance

Front entrance

Front door

Front door

Mary

Mary

Mary and Angels

Mary and Angels

Mary, Jesus, Joseph

Mary,Jesus,Joseph

Mary and Jesus

Mary and Jesus

Jesus and Mary

Jesus and Mary

Jesus & Mary

Jesus & Mary

Arabic inscription

Arabic Inscription

Latin inscription

Latin inscription

Arabic & Latin engravings

Arabic & Latin engravings

Arabic detail

Arabic detail

Latin detail

Latin detail

Statues

Holy Family statue

Mary & Jesus

Mary & Jesus

entrance

Entrance

church gate

Church gate

Exterior

Exterior

Outside

Outside

front inscription

Front inscription

White stone

White stone

Holy Family & angel

Holy Family & angel

Flight

Flight of Holy Family

Front Facade

Front Door

Altar view

Altar view

Main Altar

Main Altar

Altar

Altar image

Altar

Inside at the Altar

Altar & rail

Altar & Rail

Altar small

Inside at altar

Altar closeup

Altar closeup

grayscale high altar

High Altar (grayscale)

grayscale outside view

Outside (grayscale) view

grayscale mary & jesus

Our Lady of Milk Grotto (grayscale)

Holy Family (grayscale)

Holy Family (grayscale)

Interior

Church interior(grayscale)

Altar (grayscale)

Mary and Angels (grayscale)

Mary and angels

Angels & Mary

Mary and Angel

Mary and Angel

Mary & Jesus

Mary & Jesus

Mary

Mary

Mary praying

Mary in Prayer

Mary at entrance

Mary at entrance

inscriptions

Arabic & Latin

front

Top front

bench

Church Pew

altar

Altar

Holy Family

Holy Family

Altar closeup

Altar closeup

Engraving

Engraving

Grotto and Angels

Grotto and Angels

Holy Family Flight

Holy Family Flight

Jesus Statue

Jesus Statue

Mary and Jesus Icon

Mary and Jesus Icon

Outside View

Outside View

Church from Street

Church from street

Ave Maria Altar

Ave Maria ALtar

Altar Chandelier

Altar Chandelier

Grotto Plaque

Grotto Plaque

Church Arches

Church Arches

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Page revised and updated November 9, 2008