The Church of the Nativity is in Bethlehem and it is the world’s oldest operating church. The church was built on the top of a cave believed to be the birth place of Jesus Christ.
The first church on this site was built by Saint Helena. The construction of the church began in the year 327 and ended in the year 333. In the year 529 the church was destroyed as a part of the Samaritan Revolt. In the year 565 the church was rebuilt by Justinian the Great. In the year 614 Persians invaded the church and they haven’t touched the church. It is said that The Three Wise Men (who visited Christ after his birth) had appeared to the Persian commander Shahrbaraz in Persian clothing and commanded him to leave the place.
The church is a mixture of two churches that features the cave where Christ was born. The church complex is maintained by Armenian Apostolic, Greek Orthodox and Roman Catholic authorities.
The Church of the Nativity was built in a Roman style with five isles. It consists of golden mosaics and the entry into the church is through a small door known as “Door of Humility”. The church consists of an array of lamps and gilded iconostasis on the entire complex.
The neighboring Church of St. Catherine is a Roman Catholic Church that was built in a Gothic style. It is the place where the Midnight Mass during Christmas Eve is celebrated by the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem.
The Grotto of the Nativity is an underground cave located below the church and this cave is also the birth place of Christ. It features an altar, marble floor bounded by silver lamps.
The Manger Square is a large courtyard located at the beginning of the church. It is also the place where a number of people gather here at the time of Christmas Eve and also take part in the midnight services to sing the Christmas carols.
Also a number of chapels are located within the compound that includes the Chapel of Innocents describing the children being killed by the King Herod and the Chapel of Saint Joseph that describes about the angel appearing to Joseph and ordering him to go to Egypt.
The Church of the Nativity is the sacred place in the world and the Christmas celebrations are attended by a number of people all over the world every year. Roman Catholics celebrates Christmas on 25th December whereas the Orthodox Church celebrates Christmas on January 7th.