Jesus’ Birthplace Nominated for UNESCO World Heritage List

Bethlehem Church of the Nativity to be First Palestinian UNESCO Site

June 29, 2012 update: Jesus’ traditional birthplace at Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity was confirmed as the first Palestinian UNESCO world heritage site by a 13-6 vote.

Church of the Nativity

A The golden star in the floor of the Church of the Nativity marks the traditional location Jesus’ birthplace. The Bethlehem church was recently nominated for the UNESCO World Heritage List. Photograph by Garo Nalbandian

Read the original Bible History Daily article on the nomination of Jesus’ birthplace as a UNESCO site below:
The Church of Nativity in Bethlehem, built above the cave that traditionally marks Jesus’ Birthplace, was recently nominated to become part of the UNESCO World Heritage List. One of Christianity’s holiest sites, the first basilica was built in the fourth century C.E., and the sixth century Church of the Nativity still stands today. While few would contest that the site meets the UNESCO World Heritage List criteria of “holding outstanding value,” bearing “a unique or at least exceptional testimony to a cultural tradition” or being “directly or tangibly associated with events or living traditions, with ideas, or with beliefs, with artistic and literary works of outstanding universal significance,” the nomination of a Palestinian UNESCO site has been a controversial affair. The Palestinian Territories were granted UNESCO membership in October 2011 over Israel and the United States’ objections, who responded by cutting funding to the UNESCO program.

Interested in learning about the birth of Jesus? Learn more about the history of Christmas and the date of Jesus’ birth in the free eBook The First Christmas: The Story of Jesus’ Birth in History and Tradition.

The Church of the Nativity is located in Bethlehem and is the largest tourist attraction in the Palestinian Territories. The church’s Grotto of the Nativity has been considered Jesus’ birthplace since ancient times, and the traditional precise spot of the birth of Jesus is marked by a 14-pointed silver star in the floor. Nada Atrash, of Bethlehem’s Center for Cultural Heritage Preservation, told CNN* reporters that adding the Church of the Nativity to the UNESCO World Heritage List would be “a Palestinian dream, and as a reward of 11 years of work in the field of preserving the cultural and natural heritage in Palestine.”

The Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem

The Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, sacred to Christians as the traditional location of Jesus’ birthplace, may become the first Palestinian UNESCO site.

*Read more about the nomination of Jesus’ Birthplace as the first Palestinian UNESCO site on CNN.

Posted in Biblical Sites & Places, Cultural Heritage, News.

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11 Responses

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  1. Gene says

    World Heritage Sites are, for all intents and purposed, “owned” by the UN. Most of our national parks, both big and small (e.g., Yellostone, Sandy Hook (NJ) State Park) are so designated. And the UN’s powers even extend beyond those borders; mining operations more than 10 miles outside Yellowstone were forced to cease operations by the UN’s demand.

  2. Lori says

    Yes, unfortunately on the surface this looks like a good thing. But the PA is pushing this to “legitimize” the claim to statehood. And the UN will likely go along with it.

  3. Tom says

    Why the references to C.E.??? I find that very offensive.

  4. judith says

    I was under the impression that UNESCO did not accept the PLO’s suggestion.

  5. amnon says

    After recognizing the Nativity Church as a Palestinian site of world heritage UNESCO will recognize Jesus as a true Palestinian too! Wow!
    Well, let me tell especially the fellow behind comment 3, that I, born to a Jewish family residing in Jerualem already around 200 years, am more of a Palestinian than any who call themselves Palestinians of today, as at the time my ancestors came back to Zion those referring to this land as Palestine were British and Jews while local Arabs referred to themselves as Southern Syrians.

    Neither was/is Jesus anything but a Jew and he himself would not accept the term BC or AD. So, No 3., before feeling insulted stop being a hypocrete and start learning factual history, not an invented one!

  6. Dan says

    I’m from Jerusalem, too, and I agree with no. 5. UNESCO should stop doing this World Heritage stuff. It does as much harm as good… And actually results in considerable cultural destruction.

  7. RANDY says

    I am sorry but Christ Jesus was born in a cave in Galiee a house and road run over it , how much would it take to find out? a million , to see the light that enter there

  8. Krzysztof says

    Nr 7,Randy is right. Read ex.R.E.Brown, a Catholic biblical scholar, a member Paul vi Pontiff Biblical Commission,The Birth of the Messiah., 1978?

    too much political correctness again

  9. joseph says

    I don’t know politics behind it. But I think, granting status of UNESCO”s heritage, it will get some more fund to maintain worlds holiest place. And upmost care will be taken to preserve the church.

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