Chapel of the Shepherds' Field
|Shepherds' Field Chapel|
|Sanctuary Gloria in excelsis Deo|
|Country||State of Palestine|
|Denomination||Roman Catholic Church|
|Number of domes||1|
The Shepherds' Field Chapel (Arabic: كنيسة حقل الرعاة; Hebrew: כנסיית שדה הרועים) or the Sanctuary of the Gloria in excelsis Deo, dedicated to Our Lady of Fatima and St. Theresa of Lisieux, is a Roman Catholic religious building in the area of Beit Sahour, southeast of Bethlehem in the West Bank in Palestine. The chapel marks the place where, according to Catholic tradition,[dubious ] angels first announced the birth of Christ.
The site of the Annunciation to the shepherds favoured by tradition is not this, but the Orthodox one, on the other side of the valley (see Beit Sahour article).
In 1951–52, prior to the construction of the present chapel, Franciscan archaeologist Virgilio Canio Corbo excavated the site and found caves with evidence of human habitation during the Herodian and later Roman period, as well as ancient oil presses. Corbo used his findings as arguments in favour of the hypothesis that a small community inhabited the site at the time of Jesus' birth. Murphy-O'Connor concludes that the site was occupied during the first century by nomadic shepherds.
Over the Roman-period remnants, a Byzantine monastery was built at the end of the 4th century, which went through a second, rebuilding and expansion phase in the 6th. The monastery was destroyed by the Persians in 614 and was not reoccupied afterwards. The remains were destroyed in the 8th century by Muslims who chiseled off the Christian signs from several stones.
It has five apses that mimic the structure of a nomadic tent in gray. The words of the angel to the shepherds are inscribed gold. An image depicting the birth of Jesus can be seen in the place.
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