The Milk Grotto is hailed as one of the greatest landmarks of Bethlehem and is located only a few meters away from the Church of the Nativity. If chronicles are to be believed, it is the Milk Grotto where Mary and Joseph hid after the nativity of infant Jesus and throughout their stay, Mary nursed little Jesus. The Bible states that during the birth of Jesus, an angel warned them to remain in Egypt itself until they were ordered to return because Herod was incessantly searching for the newborn to kill him so that no one could ever challenge the former’s reign. Furthermore, according to a legend, a drop of Mary’s blood fell on the floor of the cave and immediately whitened the stone. There’s a common conception amongst people that if they visit the grotto, they will be aided with their fertility and hence, it qualifies as one of the most frequented pilgrimage destinations, especially by women who witness trouble while conceiving. The church was first revered in the 4th Century and within the 7th century, the priceless pieces of its walls were being sent to the churches of Europe. Back in 1872, a Franciscan church was built encumbering the Grotto and in 2007, a contemporary chapel was established alongside the site and is connected by a tunnel.
The best part about Milk grotto lies in the fact that it is not simply the Christian women who visit it the chapel to seek blessings from Mother Mary to endow them with fertility, but Muslim women too, have faith in its sanctity. Worshippers oftentimes prefer scrapping a white stone from the floor of the grotto so that the potential mothers can mix the scrapping with water and drink it to enhance their milk production or sometimes even place the dissections under their pillow while sleeping at night. In order to successfully meet with the increasing demands of the scrapping from all over the world, the authorities sell the white powder in small packets for the visitors to procure. The internal walls of the grotto exhibit a wide collection of letters from mothers who have successfully become pregnant after using the holy white powder of the grotto.
The chapel whose inception can be traced back to 1872 embraces the Milk Grotto; however, if sincerely look around, you will be able to still spot some remains of the breathtaking mosaics including the Christian crosses and geometric motifs that were fashioned into being in the original structure of the 4th century. The Grotto, unlike its contemporaries, doesn’t have a definite symmetrical shape as it is carved out of a soft white piece of rock. Apart from the chapel, there is a convent of the Sisters of the Perpetual Adorers who belong to the Blessed Sacrament right beside the grotto and a tunnel that forms a connecting link between the grotto and the Chapel of the Holy Sacrament.