Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus, has been a prime destination for Christian pilgrims for centuries: “And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to be delivered. And she gave birth to her first-born son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn” (Lk. 2:4-7). *
The main site in Bethlehem is the Church of Nativity on Manger Square, built over the grotto where Jesus was born. The Church of Saint Catherine is connected to the Church of Nativity at its northern end. Steps leading down from the main hall of the Church of Saint Catherine arrive at a series of caves, one of which is the Chapel of Saint Jerome. The famous Shepherds’ Fields are also located near Bethlehem.
The Mount of Temptation, near Jericho: “Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil” (Matt. 4:1). Also called “Mount Quarantal” which means 40, in reference to Jesus' fast of “forty days and forty nights” (Matt. 4:2). The Quarantal Monastery stands half way up the mountain.
Bethany was the village of Mary, Martha and Lazarus: “Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha” (Jn. 11:1). Jesus stayed at Simon the leper's house in Bethany: “Now when Jesus was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper” (Matt. 26:6). The Franciscan Church, dedicated to St Lazarus, is close to The Tomb of Lazarus.
* All quotations are from the RSV-CE.
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*Under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority.
Visiting the site/s may require special arrangements, including coordination for transportation and guides.