St Nicolas Church was hit by Israeli missiles and heavy artilery in December 2000

St Nicolas Church was hit by Israeli missiles and heavy artilery in December 2000

Photo: Beit Jala
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Mar Nicola Greek Orthodox Church

Jerusalem Greek Orthodox Patriarchate

Beit Jala, near Bethlehem

Palestine

This ancient church, the oldest in Bethlehem, was on the verge of collapse before beinig completely rebuilt in the 1920s. Ruins of an old floor and cave with Byzantine mosaic murals confirmed its antiquity (cave photos below). Tradition teaches that St Nicolas stayed four years in this cave (over which the church was built) when he visited Bethlehem during his pilgrimage to the Holy Land, ca AD 330. He is Beit Jala's patron saint. The pilgrimage to the church on December 19th, his feast day, is a highlight of the Greek Orthodox season of Nativity Lent. The Archbishop says Saint Nicholas' Feast Day prepares us for Christmas.

Cave of St. Nicolas beneath church

Icon: St. Nicholas, Father of Beit Jala

St Nicolas icons in the church

More St Nicolas icons in the church
St Nicolas Church was hit by Israeli missiles and heavy artilery in December 2000
Photo: Peter Mullins <a href="http://petermullins.blogspot.co.uk/2013/09/st-nicolas-still-at-large_29.html" target="_blank" class="link">Peter Mullin's Blog</a>
Photo: Jim Forest
Photo: J M Rosenthal
Icon with relic<br />Photo: Irina Pavlova