Christmas Facts: How do we know about the Cave of the Nativity?

According to the Gospel of Luke, we know that the Holy Virgin Mary used a crib instead of a cradle for Infant Jesus.

The Catholic Church keeps with care in the Roman church of Santa Maria Maggiore a part of the the wooden boards, which are believed to be the parts of the crib, in which Infant Jesus was laid. However, we cannot be sure about its historical authenticity. Even today everywhere in the Holy Land we can find many caves, in which people brought cattle in ancient times. However, the cribs, which we can find there, are made from stone, since wood is not a widespread material on this territory.

Nevertheless, the crib, unlike the cave itself, was mentioned in the Scripture. So, how do we know about the place where Christ was born?

For the first time, the cave, where Christ was born, was mentioned in the sources of the 2nd century (in the apocryphal Protoevangelium of James and the Dialogue with Trypho written by Saint Justin).

While the Protevangelium abounds with a great amount of details, which are doubtful from historical point of view, Saint Justin wrote down a story, which in general differed little from the one written in the Holy Gospel: “When the Infant was about to be born in Bethlehem, Joseph came to a cave near the city, as there was no place to stay in. And when they were there, Mary gave birth Christ and put Him into a crib”. Unfortunately, Saint Justin did not mention the exact place.

However, Origen, who visited Holy Places, stated the place exactly. In his book “Contrum Celsa”, he wrote: “The cave itself points, where He was born as well as the crib in the cave shows, where He was swaddled. People there remember the story about this, and even the enemies of faith know that in this cave Jesus Christ, who is honored much by the Christians, was born”.

Translated from: http://www.pravmir.ru/sem-faktov-o-rozhdestve/