The Milk Grotto of Bethlehem
A lesser-known Christian tradition in relation to the Christmas story is that immediately after the birth of Jesus Christ, Virgin Mary, as with all mothers, nursed baby Jesus shortly after childbirth. For reasons not entirely clear, this first act of motherhood following the Nativity of Christ occurred not in the Manger of the Church of the Nativity, but in a nearby cave.
The Milk Grotto is located a short distance from the entrance of the Church of the Nativity, accessible by a narrow pedestrian street located one of Bethlehem’s strongest Christian neighborhoods. Run by the Franciscan Custos of the Holy Land, the Milk Grotto includes an impressive stone façade, a well-known Catholic icon of the Virgin Mary nursing the Christ-child, and a cloistered chapel where religious sisters conduct a cycle of prayers.
The View from Milk Grotto
The cave’s name, known as either the Milk Grotto, or the Milk Grotto of the Virgin Mary, is derived from the story that a drop of milk of the Virgin Mary fell on the floor of the cave and changed its color to white, which is very clear to the visitors. The space, which contains three different caves, is visited by some pilgrims in hope of healing infertile women. These women ingest the chalky-white powder collected from the cave’s soft stone. The current Franciscan caretaker, Fr. Lawrence Bode, has recorded more than 4,000 cases of couples experiencing fertility issues who have taken the powder and reported that they have conceived children, including cases of twins, triplets and quadruplets!
As any infant child, Christ, in human form, needed nourishment from the Virgin Mary, and the Virgin Mary had to perform, with great love, motherly care for her infant child. Bethlehem Handicrafts offers many hand carved olive wood statues of the Virgin Mary tenderly holding baby Jesus.
Witness how we masterly hand carve one of our favorites Virgin Mary and Baby Jesus's sculptures from a block of olive wood from the Holy Land:
Notice the diverse colors and grains of Bethlehem's olive-wood. This great carved olive wood status of Virgin Mary appears to be on the move as she cradles her swaddled Christ child tenderly close to her heart to show her endless love.
To view the sculpture in a high-resolution panoramic 360 degrees, click here.