Click here to advertise on CatholicCulture.org

Bethlehem's population swells as pilgrims arrive for Christmas celebration

Catholic World News - December 20, 2012

Thousands of Christian pilgrims are gathering in Bethlehem for Christmas celebrations, as the city enjoys a respite from years of political struggle.

Reservations for Christmas pilgrimages to the Holy Land dropped off in November when Israeli and Palestinian forces in Gaza exchanged artillery fire, but the influx of visitors has resumed, and Israeli officials expect 75,000 people in Bethlehem from Christmas.

The Israeli tourism ministry has arranged free bus shuttles from Jerusalem to Bethlehem on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day to accommodate the visitors. The ministry estimates that Israel will have welcomed 3.3 million tourists in 2012, an increase of nearly 1 million over the previous year. Nearly two-thirds of these visitors are Christian pilgrims.

Latin-rite Patriarch Fouad Twal of Jerusalem will preside over the Christmas celebrations in Bethlehem, which begin with a procession into the city and continues with midnight Mass at the Nativity basilica. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is expected to attend the Christmas Mass along with the city’s political leaders.

Pilgrims are already lining up for a chance to visit the grotto in the Nativity basilica, traditionally recognized as the site where Jesus was born. The basilica only holds about 1,500 people, a fraction of the total who will be on hand for the Christmas celebration.

Additional sources for this story
Some links will take you to other sites, in a new window.

An appeal from our founder, Dr. Jeffrey Mirus:

Dear reader: If you found the information on this page helpful in your pursuit of a better Catholic life, please support our work with a donation. Your donation will help us reach five million Truth-seeking readers worldwide this year. Thank you!

Progress toward our April expenses ($19,134 to go):
$35,000.00 $15,866.48
55% 45%
Sound Off! CatholicCulture.org supporters weigh in.

All comments are moderated. To lighten our editing burden, only current donors are allowed to Sound Off. If you are a donor, log in to see the comment form; otherwise please support our work, and Sound Off!

There are no comments yet for this item.

Subscribe for free
Click here to advertise on CatholicCulture.org

Recent Catholic Commentary

Smaller Church, Bigger Faith, 3: Ecclesiastical Discipline April 17
The Holy Spirit and Evangelization: A Primer April 16
Journey to the Sun: A Strange Biography of Junípero Serra April 16
Russia's demographic recovery + US demographic decline = danger April 16
James Carroll strikes (at the Church) again April 16

Top Catholic News

Most Important Stories of the Last 30 Days