BETHLEHEM, PALESTINE — In looking at any city in the Holy Land one always sees a multitude of flat-roofed houses made of stone, cement or sun-dried bricks. Whatever beauty such towns possess is to be found in their natural surroundings, not in the structures themselves. Bethlehem is situated in a fertile region which gave to the place its name; for Bethlehem in Hebrew signifies “the place of food.” Every reader of these lines of course knows the prominent part which this town has played in Jewish history. It was the scene of the beautiful story of Ruth, and as the residence of the family of David it was especially revered by Hebrew prophets and poets. During the Christian era it has been the resort of millions of pilgrims who have come century after century in undiminished numbers to worship at the shrine of Christ’s nativity. The church erected over the reputed birthplace of Jesus is of enormous size and is owned by Greeks, Latins and Armenians. For more than 1500 years at least the site has never been changed. Here on Christmas day, 1101, the Crusader Baldwin was crowned King of Jerusalem. The tomb of Saint Jerome is also shown at Bethlehem, and it is an undoubted fact that that illustrious father of the church resided here for many years, dying A. D. 420. Here he learned Hebrew of the Jews, and translated the whole Bible from the original into Latin. Various chapels are erected here to commemorate the Adoration of the Magi, the Slaughter of the Innocents, and most of the events connected with the birth of Christ.  (from John L. Stoddard, Glimpses of the world; a portfolio of photographs of the marvelous works of God and man – 1892)

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