Peregrinatio ad Hierosolymam, 1102-1103

The description of the ancient monasteries of the monk Jerome and nun Paula comes from the Anglo-Saxon pilgrim Sæwulf, who described these sites in his Peregrinatio ad Hierosolymam, written in 1102-1103. Notably, he described all of the underground caves, the tombs of the saints Jerome, Paula and Eustochium, and the Grotto of the Innocents.

The city of Bethlehem, in Judea, is six miles distant from Jerusalem, on the southern side. Nothing has been left habitable there by the Saracens, but everything has been devastated, as in all the other holy places outside the walls of the city of Jerusalem, except the monastery of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of our Lord, which is great and renowned. In that same church there is a crypt under the choir, nearly in the middle, in which may be seen the actual spot of our Lord's Nativity, somewhat to the left. A little lower down on the right, near the place of our Lord's Nativity, is the manger where the ox and the donkey stood, when our Infant Lord was laid before them in the manger. The stone upon which the our Savior’s head rested in the sepulchre was brought there from Jerusalem by St. Jerome the priest, and may often be seen in the manger. The same St. Jerome rests under the altar in the north of the same church. The Innocents, who were slain by Herod as infants instead of the Infant Christ, rest at the southern side of the church under an altar. Two most holy women, Paula and her virgin daughter Eustochium, likewise rest there.

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