Christianity World Religions

Places of Worship –Church of the Nativity

Place of Worship:        Church of the Nativity

Location:                        Bethlehem, Palestine

Belief:                             Christianity

Date Opened:                327 CE

The Church of the Nativity in the town of Bethlehem, Palestine is one of the most sacred pilgrimage sites for Christians around the world. Many early Christian fathers such as Justin Martyr (c. 100-165 CE), Origen (c. 248 CE) and Jerome (c.347-420 CE) noted the belief that Jesus (as) was born in a cave in Bethlehem.[1] The Bible also has many references to Bethlehem as the birth place of Jesus (as) (Matt 2:1, 5-6, Luke 2:4).

The Church of the Nativity sits above a cave which was revered by Christians as the birthplace in the town, so in 135 CE, the Roman Emperor Hadrian planted a grove over the cave dedicated to the Babylonian god Adonis-Tammuz. It was in 327 CE that Emperor Constantine restored the site’s Christian presence, built the Church of the Nativity and had it dedicated by his mother Helena in 339 CE.[2]  The original church was damaged by fire in the Samaritan uprising in 529 CE, but rebuilt at a much grander scale by the Emperor Justinian I in its current form and was later added to by the Crusaders centuries later.

Some historians mention that when the Muslims first arrived in Jerusalem under Hazrat Umar (ra), they were permitted to use part of the church for their prayers. Certainly Umar (ra) travelled to Jerusalem and surrounding towns around 638 CE and issued a law to guarantee respect and security for Christians and their places of worship.[3]

Even today, the church receives Christian pilgrims and since 2012, it has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.


[1] LaMoire DeVries, Cities of the Biblical World (USA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1997), 253.

[2] Ibid.

[3] H. U. Rahman, A Chronology of Islamic History 570 – 1000 CE (London, UK: Ta-Ha Publishers, 1999), 58.