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This small and peaceful chapel is located close to the Nativity Church in Manger Square. Tradition has it that while Mary was nursing Jesus, a few drops of milk spilled to the ground turning the rocks white. The church is believed to be where Joseph, Mary and Jesus took refuge before their escape to Egypt.
"And after the wise men departed, behold an angel of the Lord appeared in sleep to Joseph, saying Arise, and take the child and his mother and fly into Egypt: and be there until I shall tell thee. For it will come to pass that Herod will seek the child to destroy him." Matthew 2:13-19.
The present building around the Grotto was built by the Franciscans in 1872 and before that in the 5th century with mosaics fragments of motifs and crosses and traces of original walls that remain to this day. The grotto is hollowed out of the soft white rock. There is also a tradition that identifies this as the burial site of the young victims of Herod's Slaughter of the Innocents.
This chapel has long been a devotional site for women. Both Christians and Muslims believe scrapings from the stones in the grotto boost the quantity of a mother's milk and enhance fertility. Nursing mothers mix it in their drinking water while expecting mothers place the rock under their mattress.
This revered site is known in Arabic as Maghari al Saiydeh. Many European churches have taken away pieces of the rock to put in their own churches.
Location: Milk Grotto Street
Hours: 8 a.m. till 1:30 p.m. and 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.
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