Mary’s Birthplace in Greek-Orthodox Tradition
None of the canonical Gospels record the nativity of Mary, the mother of Jesus. The earliest record to document her birth is James’s 2nd century apocryphal gospel. According to this source, Mary’s parents were Joachim and Anne. Although childless for many years, following a miraculous visit of an angel, Anne conceived Mary. This event, marked as the immaculate conception, has become a principal belief (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 the Crusaders’ times in the Holy Land.
It is unclear 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 with the Stations of the Cross (Via Dolorosa). A humble-sized chapel on the street level enables group prayers and contemplation. Small caves beneath the chapel include a cavity identified as Mary’s birthplace.