Chapel of the Milk Grotto

Exploring the Holy Land

The Chapel of the Milk Grotto of Our Lady or simply the Milk Grotto is where according to Christian tradition, the Holy Family hid in a cave during the massacre of the innocent by Herod, before fleeing to Egypt. Then tradition continues that while Mary nursed Jesus; a drop of milk fell to the ground, turning it white. Christians and Muslims alike; believe that the stone crumbs from the Chapel of the Milk Grotto enrich breastfeeding milk and contribute to fertility. Breastfeeding mothers mix the powder in their drinking water, and those seeking to conceive place it under their mattresses. According to another tradition that probably originated in the 7th century, the innocent killed by Herod the Great was buried in this cave. A third tradition places the worship of the Three Magi to Jesus in this cave.

The Cave Under Chapel of the Milk Grotto

The cave that is under the Chapel of the Milk Grotto was hewn in soft, brittle limestone, and a staircase led to it. Three pillars support its ceiling, and on its eastern side stands an altar. Above the cave, a church was built in the 5th century and from it survived mosaic fragments showing crosses. In the 14th century, the Franciscans seized control of the Chapel of the Milk Grotto and built a new church there in 1872. This church was enlarged and significantly renovated in 2007 to allow for multi-participant ceremonies.

The new church walls are white and almost completely smooth; its floor is made of marble and the benches are made of light wood. When I tour Bethlehem on my Christian Tours of Bethlehem I always take my guest to see the Chapel of the Milk Grotto. Since it is so close to the Church of Nativity it’s not such a stretch to go there. So why not right? Alright then if you think you feel like getting to know Bethlehem and the area shout me an email! 


Hi! My name is Arik, an Israeli native who dedicated his life to sharing my passion for the Holy Land with those interested in knowing more about this incredible piece of land. I’m the Chief Guide at ‘APT Private Tours in Israel’.

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