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  4. Milk Grotto

Milk Grotto, Bethlehem

Photo © Shira Karp. View all images in our Milk Grotto Photo Gallery.
Photo © upyernoz.
Photo © Shira Karp.
Photo © Shira Karp.

The Milk Grotto (officially Magharet Sitti Mariam, "Grotto of the Lady Mary") is a serene grotto only a few minutes' walk from Manger Square in Bethlehem.

This grotto, with a Franciscan chapel built above it, is considered sacred because tradition has it that the Holy Family took refuge here during the Slaughter of the Innocents, before their flight into Egypt. Tradition has it that while Mary was nursing Jesus here, a drop of milk fell to the ground, turning it white.

The irregularly shaped grotto is hollowed out of the soft white rock. A church was built here by the 5th century, and mosaic fragments on the terrace of the grotto, with geometrical motifs and crosses, are thought to belong to this time.

Both Christians and Muslims believe scrapings from the stones in the grotto boost the quantity of a mother's milk and enhance fertility. Mothers usually mix it in their drinking water; would-be mothers place the rock under their mattress.

There is also an old tradition that identifies this as the burial site of the young victims of Herod's Slaughter of the Innocents. (There is a chapel dedicated to them in the caves beneath the Church of St. Catherine.)

Quick Facts on Milk Grotto

Site Information
Names:Milk Grotto; Milk Grotto, Bethlehem
State:West Bank
Country:Israel & Palestine
Categories:Caves; Shrines; Catholic Shrines
Visitor and Contact Information
Coordinates:31.703215° N, 35.209229° E  (view on Google Maps)
Lodging:View hotels near this location
Note: This information was accurate when first published and we do our best to keep it updated, but details such as opening hours can change without notice. To avoid disappointment, please check with the site directly before making a special trip.

Map of Milk Grotto

Below is a location map and aerial view of Milk Grotto. Using the buttons on the left (or the wheel on your mouse), you can zoom in for a closer look, or zoom out to get your bearings. To move around, click and drag the map with your mouse.


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More Information

Article Info

Title:Milk Grotto, Bethlehem
Author:Holly Hayes
Last updated:10/20/2009
Link code:<a href="http://www.sacred-destinations.com/israel/bethlehem-milk-grotto/israel/bethlehem-milk-grotto">Milk Grotto, Bethlehem</a>