Thursday Doors: Church of the Nativity

While I’m stuck at home, I’m making a photo book on Shutterfly of our trip to Israel last year. Going through the photos, I noticed some interesting doors I don’t think I’ve posted before, like these in Bethlehem at the Church of the Nativity. So I will tell the story of our visit forNorm’s Thursday Doors.

Bethlehem is located in the West Bank and we took a bus there from Jerusalem. When we arrived, I was gob smacked at how large the church was! It couldn’t all fit in one picture. 20190113_145507d
More remarkable is that this church was built in 530 CE by Justinian, on the site of a 4th century church over the cave in which Jesus is said to have been born.

The first church was commissioned in 326 CE by Constantine and his mother, St. Helena, directly over the cave. In the center was a large hole, surrounded by a railing, which provided a view of the cave. Portions of the floor mosaics from this earliest church are visible in the main sanctuary today.
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Door named for St. Helena

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The Door of Humility, a small rectangular entrance to the church, was put in by the Ottomans to prevent the carts of looters from being able to enter. It is called this because one has to duck to enter the church. I was unable to get a photo of the outside of the door  because a lot of people were lined up to get in, which took some people more
time!
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But back to Justinian…who was responsible for the much larger church that still stands today. Remarkably, it was never destroyed by the Persians when they invaded in 614CE nor by the Muslims who followed them. In 1009 CE, the Crusaders took over, while the Franks and Byzantines, in the 12th century, fully redecorated the interior of the church. In the centuries that followed, the church was neglected but not destroyed, and the building also survived an earthquake (1834) and a fire (1869) which destroyed the furnishings of the cave.

In 1852, the Roman Catholic, Armenian and Greek Orthodox secured joint custody of Church of the Nativity. The Greeks maintain the grotto (where the cave is).
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I am not sure if the above photo is the inside of the Door of Humility or it is the one below, with beautiful woodworked panels above it.
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In the cavernous nave, there are 44 pillars, 30 of which are painted with images of saints or the Virgin & Child. The columns are  made of pink, polished limestone and most of them date – incredibly – from the first, 4th century Constantinian church!
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On the walls on both sides of the nave are fragments of beautiful mosaics, from the 1160s, created by the Franks and ‘Byzantines.
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Visitors were lined up on two sides of the wide nave, waiting to get into the grotto to see the site where Jesus was born.

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The main altar and another altar is the property of the Greek Orthodox Church.

Our guide inquired and found out it would be at least 45 minutes, probably more, to get in. The consensus among us was to do the alternative: go to the church next door (St. Catherine) where we could peer through a peephole into the Chapel of the Manger.

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A woman in our tour group emerges from a side door of the church.

We then went next door to St. Catherine Church. In front of the main entrance is a statue of St. Jerome (Hieronymus in Greek), who lived and worked in Bethlehem from 386 CE and is buried in a cave under Church of the Nativity. He is depicted with one foot on a skull.
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St. Jerome always had a skull within his sight when he was working, to remind him that time was limited, so he should not waste time but instead use his precious time wisely.

Behind the statue is this lovely front door to St. Catherine, with a stunning stained glass window depicting the holy family.
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Close-up of the panels on the door
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The sanctuary of St. Catherine Catholic Church
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We proceeded downstairs to the Chapel of the Grotto.

To see into the Chapel of the Manger, where there is a star on the spot where Jesus allegedly was born, we had to look through this peephole! (The people we could see through there were most likely looking down at the star.)
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Church of the Nativity was made a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2012.

Information taken from my notes and from the website Sacred Destinations,
Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem.

 

 

Sunday Trees: Biblical Trees

Last year on our trip to Israel, we visited the Garden of Gethsemane, where we saw centuries-old olive trees.
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Olive trees don’t grow super tall – they just seem to get more gnarly with age!
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This massive olive tree, now protected by a fence, is the tree against which Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane shortly before he was arrested. It gave me goosebumps!!
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This sycamore tree in Jericho is allegedly the one the tax collector Zacchaeus climbed to see Jesus better. Jesus came up to the tree and spoke to Zacchaeus, arranging to meet at the tax collector’s house.
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Posted for Becca’s Sunday Trees #436.

KOC: The Bizarrely Ordinary

From Kammie’s page: Oddball: (noun) a person or thing that is atypical, bizarre, eccentric, or nonconforming; (adjective) whimsically free-spirited; eccentric; atypical

Kammie’s Oddball Challenge is for those photos that are sort of strange, or don’t fit in with anything else. There is no specific topic, so …

I have no idea what this is, but I took the photo somewhere in Chicago. It struck me at the time as an odd object, and then there’s the random water bottle someone left there.
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This is a sad and weary water pump: overworked and underpaid in the middle of a heat wave!
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Obviously the vestige of something else that is long gone. Open? What’s open? Where?
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Apparently, someone at a nature center told us the purpose of these logs with holes in them, but I’ve forgotten.
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Don’t count on this hydrant in case of a fire!
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Build your own desert landscape! Get your camels and sand here!
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2020 Photo Challenge #6: Patterns

2020 Photo Challenge is about working on techniques to improve one’s photography. This month’s theme is patterns. Here are some of the host’s suggestions:
February:
Being Creative with Patterns
look for various types of patterns – squares, circles, triangles and so on.
Shoot from a different perspective. Look up, look down or shoot from a distance
Break the pattern, disrupt the continuity in some way
Use pattern as a background for a more substantial subject.

Patterns in Vienna:
Palace fence pattern20190706_101329

Candy bowls
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A mistake that generated light wave patternsDSC01968
Wooden floor tessellation20190707_102856
Three patterns in one photo (Cologne)
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Screen pattern as background for moth
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Patterns in nature:
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Stare at this picture - the pattern of the plant's leaves can make you dizzy!
Staring at the pattern of this plant’s leaves can make you dizzy!

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Patterns in art (Palestine and Egypt):
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CFFC: Lines

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this week has the topic Lines.

Marriott Hotel, Cairo, Egypt

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Looking down on an indoor courtyard from the second floor atrium. The Marriott Cairo was converted from a 19th century palace to a hotel, preserving many of the original building’s features.

Fine arts & gifts store in Jericho, West Bank, Palestine

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These beautiful jars are made of glass and when you hold them up to the light, their color changes – or rather, you see more colors in them.

Countryside near Jericho, Palestine

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Crops are covered to protect them from the winter weather.

Chihuly glass art, outside Museum of Glass, Tacoma, WA

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This display is outside, but part of the Museum of Glass. It is located on a bridge in downtown Tacoma and spans most of the length of the bridge.

Columned fountains, outside the Museum of Glass, Tacoma, WA

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These columns filled with flowing water were arranged in a circle, sort of like a “henge.”

A Photo a Week Challenge: Stacked

Nancy Merrill’s photo challenge A Photo a Week this week has the topic stacked.

Stacked crates – Fares Island, Egypt20181231_092102d
Stacked date palm reeds (leaf ribs), Fares Island, Egypt
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Stacked stones on a wall, St. Simeon Monastery, Aswan, Egypt
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Stacked boxes, Hebron Handicrafts, Jericho, Palestine
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Stacked bags of spices, Naschmarkt, Vienna, Austria
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Stacked jeans, Second Time Around Sale at First Congregational Church, Des Plaines, Illinois, USA
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