The Treasure of Bethlehem
Preserved today in the Archaeological Museum of the Studium Biblicum Franciscanum, the Treasure of Bethlehem consists of a series of bronze and silver objects that belonged to the Church of the Nativity in the medieval period. They were found by chance at two separate times: in 1863 during restoration works on the kitchen of the Franciscan convent, and in 1906 during excavations of the foundation for the new hospice for pilgrims.
The treasure had been carefully concealed during a period, and for reasons, that we do not know, presumably to protect it from eventual pillage. One can hypothesize that this took place after 1452 when Sultan Muhammad II prohibited the ringing of bells.
The treasure is made up of:
- an enameled crosier (pastoral staff); - three candlesticks, also enameled, two in silver with inscriptions;
- a carillon consisting of 13 bells;
- organ pipes of various dimensions;
- an Armenian cross in metal, found during excavations in 1962-1964 by Father Bellarmino Bagatti.
In addition, a number of objects coming from the Church of the Nativity are preserved in the Museum of the Flagellation.