Sri Lankan President and First Lady visit Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem
By Janaka Alahapperuma
Jan 7, 2014
The Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos III of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, hosted Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, First Lady Shiranthi Rajapaksa, Palestinian President Dr. Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah for dinner on Monday evening (06 January). Many local and foreign dignitaries were present at the dinner hosted by the Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos III.
The vicinity of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, the traditional birthplace of Jesus was illuminated for the celebration of the Eastern Orthodox Christmas, which takes place on Tuesday. Most Eastern Orthodox Christian denominations celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ on January 7th, in contrast to the Western Christian tradition of celebrating on December 25.
The compound of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem is decorated for the celebration of the Eastern Orthodox Christmas festivities. Orthodox Christian Priests and clergymen prayed in the Grotto. President Mahinda Rajapaksa, First Lady Shiranthi Rajapaksa, Palestinian President Dr. Mahmoud Abbas also attended the Mass of the Christmas Eve at the Church of the Nativity.
Meanwhile Mrs Shiranthi Rajapaksa, together with Parliamentarian Kamala Ranatunge and some members of the Sri Lankan delegation in Palestine visited Jewish and Christian religious sites in Palestine. The places visited included Mount Sinai in which Prophet Moses entered to a pact with God, the location at Jordan river in which Jesus Christ was baptized and the Church of Nativity in Bethlehem.
Photos by: Sudath Silva
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