In order to celebrate the 660th anniversary of the presence of the Franciscans in the Holy Land, the Bethlehem grottos have been opened for extended hours.
The Franciscans in the Holy Land said that starting the First Sunday of Advent, the Church of Saint Catherine, the Milk Grotto, the Shepherd’s Field, and other places will remain open continuously throughout the day from 8am to 5pm.
“One of the priorities of the Friars of the Custody is the care of pilgrims. The decision not to close the shrines at midday is a sign of this service. In recent months there has been an increase in the number of pilgrims from all over the world,” the Franciscans said in a press release.
The press release also points out that “the security wall, with the Israeli check point, often causes delays for some groups traveling to Bethlehem. The extended hours at the shrine are also intended to address problems caused by the security situation in the birthplace of the Savior.”