Iconic Painting Discovered from Fourth Century Church in Bethlehem

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Experts working at the historic church of Bethlehem have found an iconic painting of “great religious and historical value,” Palestinian Authority official says

Ziad al-Bandak, chairman of the committee overseeing the renovation, told the P.A.’s semi-official Ma’an news agency, the icon, made of brass, silver, shells and stones, was found under plaster about two months ago near a window in the church.

Millions of Christians from around the world visit the church, built over the cave or grotto where many believe Jesus was born.

ALSO READ: Palestinian Muslims Help Christians Renovate Church in Bethlehem

The Church of the Nativity is a basilica located in Bethlehem, West Bank. The church was originally commissioned in 327 by Constantine the Great and his mother Helena over the site that is still traditionally considered to be located over the cave that marks the birthplace of Jesus of Nazareth.

The Church of the Nativity site’s original basilica was completed in 339 and destroyed by fire during the Samaritan Revolts in the 6th century. A new basilica was built 565 by Justinian, the Byzantine Emperor, restoring the architectural tone of the original.

The site of the Church of the Nativity has had numerous additions since this second construction, including its prominent bell towers.

Due to its cultural and geographical history, the site holds a prominent religious significance to those of both the Christian and Muslim faiths.

Once a primarily Christian town, Bethlehem is now a Muslim-dominated city in a P.A. controlled area, but they still claim the church as part of their national heritage.

Recently, a team of Christian and Muslim experts began the renovation of the church which had suffered years of neglect.