The Grotto of the Bathing Basin
The place known as the “Bathing Basin of Jesus” is accessible only from the convent. The site, full of historical and archaeological interest, has yet to be studied in detail. It is known, however, that the rock here has maintained its form unchanged since the time in which these places were tread upon by the Holy Family.
This very suggestive element leads us into a circular cave at the center of which a large round receptacle has been hollowed out, known traditionally as the place of Jesus’ first bathing. The scene of the washing never fails to appear in Eastern icons and in ancient representations of the Nativity. This area was discovered by an enterprising sacristan at the end of the nineteenth century.
The sacredness of the place has been transmitted by a number of ancient witnesses such as Arculf (De locis sanctis, 670 AD, Book II, Chapter 3) who tells of having washed his face here. The site needs to be further studied, but one can already hypothesize that it must have served some function prior to Jesus’ birth.