Birthplace of Mary

– Answered by Father Johann Roten, S.M.

Q: Where was Mary born?

A: According to old traditions Mary was born in Jerusalem. Joachim is said to have been the owner of a home in the vicinity of the temple, more precisely near the Sheep Gate and its pool called in Hebrew Bethesda. There is a grotto nearby believed to be the place where Mary was born. The grotto became later the crypt of a church dedicated to St. Ann. In the third century a small chapel dedicated to Mary was built in the vicinity of the Bethesda pool. Empress Eudokia (348-460) had a basilica erected at this same site. Subsequently, various pilgrims (for example Theodosius, ~530) mentioned the existence of a Mary-Church close to the pool of Bethesda. Sophronius, patriarch of Jerusalem (634-638) celebrates in poetry and song the same pool as the place where St. Ann gave birth to Mary. In 1150 the crusaders, prompted by Queen Alda (widow of Baldwin I), built the church in honor of St. Ann which still exists in spite of a very difficult history.

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