Sunday, October 2, 2011

Church of St. Nicholas - Beit Jala, West Bank

The Church of St. Nicholas
Beit Jala - 2 Kilometers from Bethlehem
Image Courtesy: Fine Art America
The beautiful town of Beit Jala is located to the west of Bethlehem and only about five miles south of Jerusalem. In the picture below, the Church of St. Nicholas is located in the center. You can just make out its dome.
Unlike any of the other churches, cathedrals, and chapels that I have visited thus far in this trip around the world with churches dedicated to St. Nicholas, this one is named in his honor because - St. Nicholas actually lived here. 
The Grotto of St. Nicholas
(The cave where he lived below the monastery)
Nicholas was living in this town probably from between late 311 to 315. This would have been shortly after his release from the empire-wide persecution against Christians (303 -311). He was in prison for about eight years and suffered from several months of torture.
Devout at the Beautiful Church of St. Nicholas
Image courtesy: Dalje
During the first years of the Great Persecution (around 305) Christians from Asia Minor established a monastery here in honor of St. George (he was from Lydda, Diospolis in what was then the Roman province called, Syria Palaestina). The young but very capable Tribune, George, had been martyr in the imperial city of Nicomedia for being a Christian a year or so earlier, on April 23, 303. Consequently, when St. Nicholas arrived in Beit Jala it was an established location for Christians to retreat and gather.
Image courtesy: Panoramio
Photo by VizAviz
The ancient church of St. Nicholas was destroyed by the Persians in the early 7th century but it was rebuilt many times by the Christians of Beit Jala. The people of Beit Jala are masters in the art of stone-masonry as the current building, built in 1925, clearly proves.
Image courtesy: Panoramio
Photo by VizAviz
St. Nicholas is the patron saint of this town and the citizens believe he has protected them greatly throughout the years. Before 1948 it was mainly a Christian area. Now, Christians form a very small minority and those few who remain are finding it very difficult to make a living. This location, close to the Lord's Incarnate birth, is such a holy, and yet, volatile area of the world...
The Christians - all people there - need our prayers and whatever other support we can give them...

25 comments:

Louise said...

They certainly do need our prayers. It is, like all of the others, a beautiful church.

Out on the prairie said...

It hurts to think we have closed our minds and then this area that has such major meaning to Christians.A very interesting design.

Lois Evensen said...

How fascinating to see where St. Nicholas actually lived. Wonderful post! :)

Food, Fun and Life in the Charente said...

This really is a beautiful church and how fantastic that St Nicholas actually lived there. Amazing. Diane

Celestial Charms said...

A beautiful church with such a sacred history. Thanks for sharing.
Maureen

imac said...

My thoughts and prayers for all concerned.

Such beauty that you always capture my friend.

Junibears said...

Fascinating to see where St. Nicholas lived. A beautiful church and a wonderful post to read. xx

troutbirder said...

Wonderfully interesting history and photos Ann. I've always wanted to visit the Holy Land but so far have lacked both the money and the courage. Maybe someday.....

Ola said...

Impressive! a place where he lived!

Krystal said...

there you are!

Mimi said...

One of the women in our parish was born in Beit Jala, what a blessing to see this church featured.

Pat said...

Beautiful church. It is indeed a volatile area, will keep them in my prayers xx

Sara B said...

This is amazing and made all the more special because the REAL St. Nicholas lived here... I so enjoy your "trips around the world with churches dedicated to St. Nicholas!" :)

Alexis AKA MOM said...

My dear yet again I come to find history, and beautiful photos. prayers always needed :)

Rebecca said...

SACRED! Simply beautiful. Prayers going up!

Thank you for sharing...xoRebecca

Mademoiselle Poirot said...

That's the one he actually lived in? That's amazing... The church looks so different and much simpler in style and a lot of churches I have seen. It's simply beautiful. Thanks for letting me know to pop in and for sharing this. I hope you're well. Love from London xo

Mandie said...

Wow, I love that he lived below it there. So very interesting. I had no idea he was prisoned for 8 years :-(.

Nezzy said...

Totally fascinating history here along with some of the most beautiful architecture ever!!!

Very interesting facts sweetie!!!

God bless ya and have a wonderful weekend!!! :o)

June said...

This post was so interesting because of the history you write, making me realize I really know very little about what the early Christians went through and how much they suffered for what they believed. I love seeing the Holy Land and this church being so close to where Christ lived while on the earth.
Thank you Ann for educating me more in all of your posts. I love it!
big hugs from here...

Ginny said...

Hi Ann, nice to meet you!! I enjoy touring and looking at churches. Do you know how many worldwide are named after St. Nicholas? What an unusual blog subject, what got you interested in it?

Madi and Mom said...

Ann yet another beautiful church and historical information.
Madi and I send hugs to you and Edward,
C

Betsy from Tennessee said...

Gorgeous church, Ann.... YES---Christians (in many countries--including ours) need our prayers... Hope the people in Beit Jala can keep that church going... SAD! The stone masonry work in that church is fabulous.
Hugs,
Betsy

Marg said...

That was so interesting about St.Nicholas. We sure hope that the church can be kept going. What a sad thing for sure. Hope you have a great day.

Angelsdoor * Penny said...

Hello dear Ann
First I want to thank you so much for wandering over and leaving such a kind note for me.. I am so happy you enjoyed viewing the vase.
Now, this post... I just love coming here.. I feel like I have had my own tour along with you... Beautiful church, and so informative..
Thanks so much Ann
Blessings,
Penny

Dan Koski said...

Thank you for posting this! Mar Nicola Church is my home parish church; I am originally from the US but I have lived here for some time after being married to a local woman. We pray that we are able to share this beautiful place and our own very personal and living connection to Saint Nicholas with more Christians throughout the world...much love from Beit Jala, Dan.