Springfield Township south of Akron may not be the place where Christ was born but it is home to one of two replicas in the United States of the tiny cave in Bethlehem where the actual birth is said to have taken place. The other replica is located in Washington, D. C.
The Ohio Bethlehem Cave and Nativity Museum, is located in the basement of the Nativity of the Lord Jesus Catholic Church on Myersville Road. It was built in 1992.
It was the idea of the pastor, Father David Halaiko, whom had travelled to the holy land several times to visit the original site. He took many measurements and photos at the Bethlehem church to make the replica as authentic as possible.
The day I visited the church I was met by Kathleen Conrad, a parishioner who serves as tour guide. She pointed out that the dimensions of the man-made cave are the same as the site in Bethlehem, but the cave is only half-the length of the one in the Holy Land.
The main feature is the Alter of the Nativity. On the floor, directly beneath the alter, is a large metal star, exactly like the one in Bethlehem. There is a hole in the center of the star, which contains a stone that came from the Cave Church at Shepherd’s Fields in Bethlehem. The star is inscribed in Latin which translates as, “Here Jesus Christ was born of the Virgin Mary.”
Across the cave is a hollowed out section of the wall that travelers in Biblical times used for a manger to feed their animals. The Bible says that the baby Jesus was placed in this manger……You can read the rest of this story in the November 26 edition of the Plain Dealer or on their website at http://www.cleveland.com