Most Westerners and all Christians are familiar with the famous carol “While shepherds’ watched their flocks by night” a hymen based on Luke 2:8-14. The Biblical passage describes a group of shepherds watching over their animals in a field at night. An angel appears before the shepherds and tells them that the Savior, Christ the Lord has been born in a manger in nearby Bethlehem. The shepherds then make their way to Bethlehem and see the newborn babe in the manger.
According to the description in the Bible three possible locations were identified for the site of the Shepherds’ Field; all are around the predominantly Christian Bethlehem suburb of Beit Sahur. One site east of Beit Sahur is marked by a red-domed Greek Orthodox church; a second site further to the east is marked by a Protestant church and a third site on the northern side of Beit Sahur is in Siyar el-Ghanam and is the most widely accepted site for the Shepherds’ Field.
Chapel of the Angels
This site is marked by the magnificent Chapel of the Angels (Chapel of the Shepherds’ Field), designed by Antonio Barluzzi in 1954. The chapel is shaped like a field tent that the shepherds may have used. Above the chapel entrance is the bronze figure of an angel. The chapel has a cement and glass dome that lets in light symbolizing the great light brought by the angel. The church holds breathtaking murals depicting the angel appearing to the shepherds; the shepherds paying their respects to Jesus and celebrating the birth of Christ. The Franciscan church encompasses an ancient cave that the shepherds may have used. Alongside the Chapel of the Angels are the remains of a 4th century church and monastery; this shows that the site was identified as Shepherds’ Field as early as the 4th century.