Bethlehem is a Palestinian city in the central West Bank, approximately 8 kilometers  south of Jerusalem, with a population of about 30,000 people.It is the capital of the Bethlehem Governorate of the Palestinian National Authority and a hub of Palestinian culture and tourism.

The Hebrew Bible identifies Beit Lehem as the city David was from and the location where he was crowned as the king of Israel. The New Testament Gospels of Matthew and Luke identify Bethlehem as the birthplace of Jesus of Nazareth. The town is inhabited by one of the oldest Christian communities in the world, though the size of the community has shrunk due to emigration.

Bethlehem has a Muslim majority, but is also home to one of the largest Palestinian Christian communities. The Bethlehem agglomeration includes the towns of Beit Jala and Beit Sahour, as well as the refugee camps of ‘Aida and Azza. Bethlehem’s chief economic sector is tourism which peaks during the Christmas season when Christian pilgrims throng to the Church of the Nativity.

The Church of the Nativity

 

 A place of prayer and pilgrimage

Pilgrims wait to venerate the place of Christs birth

Let the just rejoice,
for their justifier is born.
Let the sick and infirm rejoice,
For their saviour is born.
Let the captives rejoice,
For their Redeemer is born.
Let slaves rejoice,
for their Master is born.
Let free men rejoice,
For their Liberator is born.
Let All Christians rejoice,
For Jesus Christ is born.
St. Augustine of Hippo (AD 354-440)

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