Sunday, August 23, 2009

More Bethlehem

There are several churches right there at Manger Square in Bethlehem. One that I thought was cool was the Chapel of Saint Jerome. It is a church built over the cave that Saint Jerome supposedly lived in when he translated the Old Testament from Greek into Latin.

From the outside of the church

A beautiful mosaic down in the cave

Down in the cave, this is supposed to be the very place that Jerome was buried.

There were also some other old empty tombs down in the cave, but I don't know the explanation behind them.

This next picture is a little weird and I'm not quite sure what to think about it. There at Manger Square they also have the Chapel of the Innocents that is built in memory of all the male children that were killed under Herod's order. Underneath, there is a cave with empty tombs and several rooms full of bones. I don't think most people know about this place because you can only get into it through a locked gate. But my friend Sahar, who is from Bethlehem, knows the monks well enough there to ask for the key. So we went down there and sure enough, lots of bones. Some were very small, clearly belonging to children. Others were more adult sized. I guess the story is that the adult bones belong to the mothers who refused to hand over their babies, so they were also killed. How's that for a lovely story? If it makes you feel better, I really doubt that's what these bones are from. But it still definitely made me stop and think about what it would have been like for those families back then. I can't imagine someone coming into my house and killing Jackson just because of the cowardice and fear of a higher governmental authority. :(

This last picture is of one of "Solomon's Pools" just outside of Bethlehem. There are three of these huge pools, and they get their name from a scripture about Solomon building pools to provide water. But most scholars agree that they are more likely to date back to Herod the Great. He had these pools built to channel water into Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and one of his palaces. The water was utilized through a very sophisticated aqueduct system. They channeled the water clear up until sometime in the 40's, so it has been a major source of water supply for centuries. After that, they became a recreational spot where people would go swimming. But I am sad to say that they are all dried up. Fences have been built up all around them, and garbage is collecting. I took this picture through one of the holes in a chain link fence. From what I hear, this area used to be absolutely beautiful. Now it's a weird left-over existence of what once was. I searched the internet for a long time in an effort to find more information, but I couldn't find anything current. I would love to know the reasoning behind blocking it all off.


Devon said...

Wow...the bone picture is intense. All I can say about that is wow.

Elisabeth said...

Oh my goodness! I wonder where all those bones came from? Kinda creept too. Amy, all of your posts are SO intruiging to me. What a wonderful experience for you to live in Jerusalem and see everything that most people only hear about. It's all very fasinating! :)

Alexandra said...

Great pictures Amy! St. Jerome's cave is one of my favourite parts of the church...the lighting is so mysterious and you can imagine someone sitting there, translating and translating and translating. It's such an eclectic church - lots of art, caves, massive chandeliers and bones. And I loved the photos of Solomon's Pools, I've never seen them before.

dimasrouji said...

Solomon Pools were meant to be reconstructed and had a renovation programme in the year 2000. The project was almost complete but then the second intifada happened and the project was bombed. The reason it initially was blocked off was simply due to war.