The temple and the cave of the birth in Bethlehem
Bethlehem, a small town of Palestine, was the place of birth of many great men mentioned in the Old Testament.
Perhaps the most important of all is David, the King of Israel. However, the name Bethlehem has been associated with Jesus Christ, because there was the cave that gave shelter to the Virgin Mary and the newborn infant.
The cave was known from the earliest years of Christianity. In A.D. 100, the Roman Emperor Hadrian raided Palestine and desecrated the cave. Saint Helena, the mother of Constantine the Great, built a temple in A.D. 327 to protect and mark the boundaries of the Grotto for the following generations.
The Grotto is located under the nave of the church and in order to visit it one has to descend 13 steps. The light from the candles, the Altar of the Orthodox that is marked by a silver star on the marble and the Manger of the Catholics constitute the basic elements of the Grotto, which is carved into the rock, confirming its authenticity.
The Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem has the jurisdiction of the Temple since 1757 where every December 25 is celebrated the birth of Jesus.