Church of the Week: Shepherd's Field, Beit Sahour

Beit Sahour, a town of approximately 12,000 residents in the Bethlehem area, is believed to be the site where the angels appeared to the shepherds to announce the birth of Jesus (Luke 2:8-10). There have been churches and monasteries on this site since the fourth century or earlier.

We visited the Franciscan church (there is also a Greek Orthodox church nearby) on our recent pilgrimage to Israel:

The chapel's dome is intended to evoke a starry sky:

And from left to right, the frescoes tell the shepherds' story, of the angels' announcement:

Their discovery of the Christ child:

And their going off to tell everyone of what they had seen and heard:

Another chapel is located in a cave off a courtyard just below the church, which could have been the cave where some of those biblical shepherds sought shelter...until the angels appeared.

This area is also believed to be where the Hebrew matriarchs Ruth and Naomi gleaned in the fields behind the harvesters on their way to Bethlehem from Moab (Ruth 2-4).

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