A short stroll from Manger Square in Bethlehem lies another sacred site – the Milk Grotto, so called as it was allegedly used by Mary to nurse the baby Jesus. Legend has it that the Holy Family hid out in the grotto during the Massacre of the Innocents, before fleeing to Egypt, and that while nursing, a drop of Mary’s milk hit the ground, turning the cave white.
A church has stood on the spot since the 5th century and today, a small Franciscan chapel stands watch over the entrance to the Milk grotto, now a shrine to the Virgin Mary. The cave itself, sculpted from white chalk rock, has become a magnet for women looking to conceive, with many believing that drinking the powdered rock (on sale at the grotto) will enhance their fertility. The display of notes and baby photos sent to the grotto from around the world seem to testify to its powers.
The Milk Grotto is located about 5 minutes' walk from Manger Square in Bethlehem and is open daily (Summer: Mon-Sat 8am-6pm, Sun 8-11.45am, 2-6pm; Winter: Mon-Sat 8am-5pm, Sun 8-11.45am, 2-5pm).