By Yvonne Blackwood ~
Third in a series of blogs on the theme of architecture and religious structures (see Parts 1, & 2) this week we will feature an intriguing structure in Bethlehem. The Holy Land is chock-full of grand religious buildings, but it is the quaint and unusual structures that impress me the most. Shepherd’s Field Chapel is one of these.
Antonio Barluzzi, an Italian architect and a Franciscan monk to boot, built the Shepherd’s Field Chapel in 1954. He built several other religious buildings in the Holy Land including the Mount Beatitudes church, and earned the nickname the “Architect of the Holy Land.” The chapel is built to resemble a shepherd’s tent, and is attached to the remains of a 4th-century church.
According to the biblical text an angel came upon shepherds tending their flock in the field and told them, “. . .You shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a mange” (Luke 2-12). The Shepherd’s Field Chapel is located about 2 kilometres east of Bethlehem in the village of Beit Sahour, Palestine, and is said to be on the spot where the angel appeared to the shepherds.
Besides the impressive structure from the outside, the ceiling and the walls are covered with striking frescos as good as those seen in the Sistine Chapel, and include scenes depicting the angel’s announcement to the shepherds, the shepherds worshiping Jesus, and the shepherds celebrating the birth of the Messiah.
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