The Church of the Nativity is one of the oldest working churches in existence today, and
was commissioned in 327 by Constantine the Great and his mother Saint Helena.
The old Basilica was completed between 333 to 339, but was later destroyed by fire during the Samaritan revolts in the sixth century.
A new basilica was erected in 565 by the Byzantine emperor Justinian I.
He managed to restore the architectural tone of the original Basilica.
The holy site known as the Nativity Grotto is believed to be the cave in which Jesus was born. In 135, Emperor Hadrian had the site above the grotto and converted into a worship place for Adonis, the mortal lover of Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of beauty and desire.
Jerome claimed in 420 that the grotto had been consecrated to the worship of Adonis, and that a sacred grove was planted there in order to completely wipe out the memory of Jesus from the world.
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