“…Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger” (King James Bible, Luke 2:12)
The town of Bethlehem is built on a little hill on which the white, flat-roofed houses cluster and rise in irregular terraces. Some of the oldest are constructed in a style that has not changed since the Birth of our Blessed Lord. They are really one-roomed houses built over caves. The caves, which are hollowed out of the hillside at road level, are still used as stables for the animals, while the living quarters of the family, farther back up the slope, are reached by flights of stone steps.
And it was in one of these caves that Jesus Christ, the Holy of holies, was born of his spotless Mother. We have romanticised that stable and often, like the images on many Christmas cards, picture it as comfortable and clean. But in truth it is much more likely to have been draughty and dingy – even squalid. And such it would have remained had not the Saviour of the world been born there.