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A description

  
Leaving the hectic Jerusalem area towards the southern part of Judea you admire the countryside with olive trees and other vegetation. You notice the crawling in of buildings eating slowly even the desert which from the outskirts of the city spreads down towards the Dead Sea. Bethlehem is a town inspiring tenderness and its beauty is a remarkable blend between the Eastern and Western cultures. In front of you the town spreads its wings as if giving shelter to the crawling houses built along its slopes. Passing the military check-points you pass by the tomb of Rachel, a pilgrimage place for Jews and Arabs alike. And there comes to your mind the remote history of this small town of Bethlehem. In fact this Judean town is the backdrop for various historic events found in the Bible.
  
But Bethlehem today presents itself in a different light. A medieval description of the small town describes the work and toil of the townsfolk immersed in producing gems of art in the "mother of pearl", a craft which was introduced in the Holy Land by the Franciscans. And today such a craft is still practised by many a resident of the town where they proudly display their "gems". The Population of Bethlehem today is made up of Christians and Moslems. Among the Christians we find Catholics of Latin, Syrian, Melchite, Armenian and Maronite rites and Orthodox of Greek, Syrian and Armenian denominations. Protestants too are present in the Judean town.
  
A multitude of religious institutes are present in Bethlehem. Amongst these, alongside the Franciscan Friars, we find the De La Salle Brothers (Freres), the Betharam fathers and the Salesians. A multitude of Sisters offer their services to the population: the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Apparition, the Carmelite, Salesian, Franciscan Missionaries of Mary, Franciscans o the Sacred Heart of Mary, Sisters of Our Lady of the Apostles, Sisters of Charles de Foucauld, Sisters of Ortas, Rosary Sisters, Elizabethan Sisters and the Dorothean Sisters. All these are mainly involved in Charitable and Educational services ranging from schools to orphanages, from homes to hospitals.

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Created / Updated Wednesday, December 19, 2001 at 18:14:32 by John Abela ofm
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