A short distance from the Church of the Nativity is the 19th century Franciscan Milk Grotto Church. The tradition is that the white colour of the chalk was caused by a drop of milk which fell while Mary was feeding Jesus. Thought to have therapeutic powers the soft chalk is used by nursing mothers to enrich and increase their milk and fragments from the grotto can be found in a number of churches in Europe. Crusader King Baldwin believed that stones from the Milk Grotto would ensure a successful end to his siege of Ashkelon in 1123.

 

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