Bells of Bethlehem: Sounds from the Church of the Nativity

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About the Exhibition

The Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, believed by many to mark the place of Jesus's birth, has survived for thousands of years. It is one of the oldest continuously operating churches, surviving invasions, changing regimes, fire, and earthquakes.

In the twelfth century, during the Crusader period, protective walls, two bell towers, paintings, and mosaics were added to the church. During the mid-thirteenth century, prior to an invasion, Crusaders buried 13 bronze bells near the church, coating them with animal fat to protect them from rust. These bells were unearthed, along with 222 medieval copper pipes from the church organ, in 1906 during a building project at the Franciscan compound.

Now, for the first time, six of these bells are travelling to the United States for public display, thanks to the permission of the Custodia Terrae Sanctae and the Terra Sancta Museum in Jerusalem. Museum of the Bible is excited to showcase these bells, along with beautiful images of the church, for the Christmas season. Come learn more about this site and the many sounds of the liturgy and worship that have filled its halls and courtyards over the centuries. 

Photo credit Elias Halabi