Mary’s Birthplace in Greek-Orthodox Tradition
None of the canonical Gospels record the nativity of Mary, mother of Jesus. The earliest record to document her birth is the 2nd century apocryphal gospel of James. According to this source, Mary’s parents were Joachim and Anne. They were childless for many years but following a miraculous visit of an angel Anne conceived Mary. This event, marked as the immaculate conception, has become a principal (Dogma) in the Catholic church and is celebrated on December 8th.
Where was Mary Born?
Since the time of the Crusaders the birthplace of Mary is marked in a crypt under a large-scale church in Jerusalem, next to the Pools of Bethesda. The impressive Romanesque style church built over the birth spot is still intact. Named “Saint Anne Church”, It is one of the best examples of Ecclesiastical architecture from Crusaders’ times in the Holy Land. It is not clear when the Greek-Orthodox church developed an alternative site for Mary’s birth, but it is very close to Saint Anne’s Church. The entrance is from the street connecting the Lion’s gate to the Via Dolorosa. A humble sized chapel on the street level enable group prayers and contemplation. A set of small caves beneath the chapel include a cavity identified as Mary’s birthplace.
A tour of Mary’s Birthplace can be combined with a guided day tour of Jerusalem.