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 seven million Truth-seeking readers worldwide this year. Thank you!

Progress toward our July expenses ($21,632 to go):
$35,000.00 $13,367.95
62% 38%
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
Shop Amazon
Click here to advertise on CatholicCulture.org

Recent Catholic Commentary

Making Moral Progress? July 3
Vatican statement clarifies duties of Catholic faithful after Obergefell decision July 2
Political battles vs. sacrificial service: The Brooks paradox revisited July 2
A Baptist leader with a message the Synod of Bishops should hear June 30
'Helpful' advice for social conservatives: ignore causes, deal with effects June 30

Top Catholic News

Most Important Stories of the Last 30 Days
Pope approves process for holding bishops accountable in abuse cases CWN - June 10
Pope Francis’ 2nd encyclical released (includes link to full text) CWN - June 18
US Supreme Court rules all states must recognize same-sex marriage CWN - June 26
Archbishop Nienstedt, auxiliary bishop resign CWN - June 15