The Holy Land

In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

~ Luke 2:1-7

The Grotto of the Nativity, a rectangular cavern beneath the church, is the Church of the Nativity’s focal point. Entered by a flight of steps by the church altar, this is the cave that has been honored as the site of Christ’s birth since at least the 2nd century.

Star of Bethlehem

A silver star in the floor marks the very spot where Christ is believed to have been born. The star’s Latin inscription reads, “Here of the Virgin Mary Jesus Christ was born 1717.” The floor is paved in marble, and 15 lamps hang above the star (six belong to the Greek Rite, five to the Armenian and four to the Latin).

Star of Bethlehem2

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. He fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was famished. The tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.”

But he answered, “It is written,‘One does not live by bread alone,
but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

Then the devil took him to the holy city and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down; for it is written,
‘He will command his angels concerning you,’
and ‘On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.’”

Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor; and he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.”

Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! for it is written,
‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.’”

Then the devil left him, and suddenly angels came and waited on him.

~ Matthew 4:1-11

The Mount of Temptation, with a gravity-defying monastery clinging to its sheer face, is traditionally regarded as the mountain on which Christ was tempted by the devil during his 40-day fast.

Mt. of Temptation

More to come…

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