A very precious treasure of the Church of Nativity from Bethlehem is the miracle making icon of the Holy Mother of God, the Betlehemite, placed in a beautiful proskynetarion on the right of the steps which lead to the Cave of the Birth of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The icon is unique in the world because the Holy Mother of God is painted smiling and also because her Child blesses with His hand the believers. The face of the Most Holy Mother of God in this icon radiates affection and peace and the smile on her face rejoices the souls of the pilgrims.
There are no precise data regarding the origin of the Icon. According to the tradition the Icon was painted by Saint Luke the Apostle and Evangelist.
The Icon is beautifully covered in gold and silver and adorned with precious stones, donated by the Russian queen Ecaterina after a miracle the Holy Mother of God made with her. When she visited the Holy Land the Russian queen donated her garments to clad with them the Queen of the whole world. She donated even her personal jewels to be put in the icon and decided that in the future the Russian queens should not wear rubies anymore so that this could remain an exclusive privilege of the Holy Mother of God.
In time the Icon of the Holy Mother of God from Bethlehem was taken to processions in th Holy Land and also in Greece and Russia.
The Icon of the Holy Mother of God the Betlehemite is celebrated on December 26th together with the assembly of the Holy Mother of God.
Priest Silviu Cluci