Bethlehem: Church of St. Catherine and the Cave of St. Jerome
In Bethlehem, as you pass through the north door of the Church of the Holy Nativity you step right in to the Church of Saint Catherine. This is a Roman Catholic church and is the official parish church for Catholics in Bethlehem.
It is from here that midnight Mass is held on Christmas Eve that is broadcast around the world.
The steps in the church lead down to a series of caves over which the Church has been built, the most famous being the Cave of Saint Jerome, .
About Saint Jerome:
Jerome (345-420 AD) was not what many people would call a saintly man: he struggled with sexual desires and was also known for his bad temper! He removed himself to Jerusalem and put his mind to learning Hebrew, and then translating most of the Old Testament from the Hebrew into Latin, which became known as the “Vulgate” Bible. The term “vulgate” refers to the common language used at that time, which was Latin. This is what he is best remembered for….perhaps his most notable contribution.
Saint Jerome died at the age of 73 and his remains were later interred at the Basilica of Saint Mary Major in Rome. We celebrate the Feast of Saint Jerome on September 30.
In addition to the cave of Saint Jerome, there is a chapel dedicated to Saint Joseph and also the chapel of the Holy Innocents.
This is a really awesome experience to be here and not always included in Holy Land pilgrimages. So try to visit if you can.