Palestinian National Authority

Church renovation lifts Christmas spirit in Bethlehem

A historic renovation of the Church of the Nativity is lifting spirits in the biblical town of Bethlehem ahead of Christmas, offering visitors a look at ancient mosaics and columns that have been restored to their original glory for the first time in 600 years.

City officials hope the renovation at the traditional birthplace of Jesus will boost tourism and a weak economy in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, and perhaps slow a decades-long drain of the Christian population from the lands where the faith was born.

"Christians are leaving the Holy Land due to the lack of peace and economic hardships and we are struggling to keep them in their homeland," said Bethlehem...

22°