Jesus and the ruins of Bethlehem

Lisa Vardy BBC News, Jerusalem “The show that came along was not what we wanted to see in Bethlehem,” says David, a foreign visitor now estranged from his partner. “We kept looking around and…

Jesus and the ruins of Bethlehem

Lisa Vardy

BBC News, Jerusalem

“The show that came along was not what we wanted to see in Bethlehem,” says David, a foreign visitor now estranged from his partner. “We kept looking around and there were no scenes from Christmas past. I am sure there were but our time on the tour we weren’t offered. “The previous visitors were happy to speak to us as we were wandering around but on this tour there were no members of the clergy. And it was clear from the start that they weren’t making the most of their resources.” Bethlehem is just a short distance from Jerusalem, but its treasures have vanished completely since the Middle Ages. Today the town is slowly being drained and the ancient neighbourhood of the Church of the Nativity, built on the spot where Christians believe Jesus was born, is close to collapse. Much of the area is contaminated and covered with rubbish. St Paul’s wing St Paul’s wing is just across the valley from the modern city centre. It includes a fascinating room that is full of iconographic treasures, paintings and mosaics. The poor biblical paintings were replaced by church maps and carpets But this room has an immense congregation. “They build all these magnificent rooms, and all they care about is how they are going to fill them up,” says a Palestinian guide. “In the best of times you can buy museum tickets for $10 (£6.50). Today you need to get an Israeli passport just to get in here – otherwise you’re going to have to pay $75.” Two years ago, the floors in St Paul’s wing were covered in poor biblical paintings. Most were removed and replaced with church maps and carpets. Today, many of the paintings have been replaced by Israel’s ministry of defence budget. It is a cheap way to remove something that takes too much time and effort. There are many treasures which would, in ordinary circumstances, be worth millions. The poor creches We travel the valley, past devastated houses and museum exhibits, and glimpse the Church of the Nativity. Now it’s all rubble

Diya Yousif Abaker Diya Yousif Abaker, standing in the ruins of one house, explains why there’s nowhere to come and sit in one of the creches that used to sit outside. “Now it’s all rubble,” he says. “I’m used to the American school tours, which tells you all about these things. But this is the church that Jesus stayed in, and this is the place where Mary gave birth.” “Children used to play in these houses. Then all of a sudden, the houses and everything moved. And there was no way for anyone to trace how they were moved – people scattered.”

Bookmark with: Delicious

Digg

reddit

Facebook

StumbleUpon What are these? E-mail this to a friend Printable version

Leave a Comment