The Passionists - Compassion

Mary in Christian Tradition

At Bethlehem, the grotto of Christ's birth was held sacred


The Grotto at Bethlehem, c. 1914 - National Geographic

St. Jerome (depicted at right in a woodcut by Albrecht Dürer), himself a resident of Bethlehem in the 4th century, describes a typical pilgrim's devotion when he recalls Paula, a prominent Roman matron, visiting the grotto where Jesus was born:

"She looked long on the Virgin's refuge and the stall where the ox and the ass recognized their Lord. Then she swore -- I myself heard her say it -- that with the eyes of faith she saw the Child, wrapped in swaddling clothes and crying in the manger, the Magi adoring God, the star that shone above, the Mother who was a virgin, the revered foster-father and the shepherds who came in the night."

Like Paula, Christian pilgrims came in growing numbers to see where the stories related in the scriptures took place.

"Someone who has seen Judea with his own eyes will look more clearly on Holy Scripture." (St. Jerome)

how St Jerome came to be in Bethlehem
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