Crowd of pilgrims in Bethlehem, the Basilica of the Nativity opens until 8 pm

Posted on Nov 22, 2019

Pilgrim, USA

“It’s great to be here, in the place where Jesus was born… it’s really something incredible. I feel really lucky to have had the opportunity to live this experience.”

The first lights and the beautiful decorations along the streets of Bethlehem announce that Christmas is just around the corner.

In these days many pilgrims from all over the world are crowding the place where the Saviour of the world was born. This has prompted the religious authorities of the Church of the Nativity – after a meeting with the Presidential Committee for Ecclesiastical Affairs in Palestine and the Palestinian Ministry of Tourism – to extend the opening hours of the Basilica by three hours, to allow all pilgrims to visit the Grotto of the Nativity until 8 pm.

Custody of the Holy Land

“It is a historic agreement between the three Christian communities present in the Basilica of the Nativity. An agreement taken first of all to meet the needs of pilgrims. It is very important that everyone has time to pray, to visit the cave in silence, in recollection, because all those who come to visit this cave bring with them special desires, special requests. In the coming weeks, the whole city, all its inhabitants, will experience an atmosphere of joy… the atmosphere of Christmas: we want to give some of this atmosphere to the pilgrims who arrive in Bethlehem, so that they can feel what we feel here, in the place where Jesus was born, in the place where everything began.”

The solemn entrance of the Custos of the Holy Land, Friar Francesco Patton, into the Church of the Nativity is scheduled for November 30. The Custos will bring a piece of the relic of the Holy Manger that welcomed the Child Jesus to the adjacent Franciscan Church of Saint Catherine. The relic, now preserved in Rome, is a gift from Pope Francis to the Custody of the Holy Land and will remain in Bethlehem permanently.

Pilgrim, Germany

“If you are a faithful, and this place means something to you, then come and see what it does to you, how it moves you and what faith it gives you.