Mar Nicola Church

fd8b0f77d767f1f6640afba6916ff67c LSt. Nicholas lived in a cave overlooking Bethlehem during his pilgrimage to the Holy Land in the 3rd century. By tradition, this is believed to be the cave now situated beneath the altar of the Arab Orthodox Church of St. Nicholas in modern day Beit Jala. The original church was a small chapel in the old neighborhood of Beit Jala . It consisted of two side rooms, and was connected to a well-known part of the old city-the “ Araq quarter , which had a roof ceiling . It is believed that the chapel was built by Karj Monks who came from Russia during the Turkish occupation . Some also believed that it was built above a small part of Al-khader ( Saint George’s ) Monastery.

The ancient church was an old building on the verge of collapse, so the citizens of Beit Jala demolished it and constructed a new and improved church. During construction, the ruins of an old Byzantine church floor 2 and an old cave were discovered with mosaic murals picturing an eagle bearing two heads. This was symbol of the Holy Byzantine Empire. The findings confirm the holiness and antiquity of the church. 

The people of the town believe that Saint Nicolas, who was the priest of a town called Lykia ( now in Russia ) , used the cave , over which the church was eventually built , as his place of residence his visit to the Holy Land . Some catacombs, believed to be the resting places of monks living in the Holy Land in the first centuries of Christianity, are also found there.

The church takes the from of a cross. On the inside walls and dome are graceful paintings and drawings. The Iconostas, engraved from local cut stones , is considered a masterpiece of decorative and beautiful icons. beit jala cave1

The stones used in building the church were brought from Al- Slayeb area in Beit Jala ; the stones for the Iconostas 3 were brought from Al-Dabe area in Nahalin , a village near Bethlehem . Construction began in 1921 and ended in 1925.

Hymns and chants for Saint Nicolas are painted on white alabaster. Three doors from north, south, and west to the church.

The festival of St.Nicolas , held on December 19 every year , is one of the most elaborate  Christian festivals in the area.

Last modified on Saturday, 02 April 2016 11:12

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Quote for today

A man can never learn what divine power is while he abides in comfort and spacious living. St. Isaac the Syrian,  Homily 72

Orthodox Church in Beit Jala

It is held by many Beit Jalans that there has been a continual Christian presence in the city since almost the birth of the Christian faith. The large columns of the Church the Nativity in Bethlehem are said to have been carved from the hills of Beit Jala while Saint Nicholas of Myra, a beloved 4th century saint in both Eastern and Western Christianity whose pious deeds and miracles gave rise to the modern legend of Santa Claus.

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