The Place Where Jesus Was Born (in Akron)

Bethlehem Cave and Nativity Museum at the Nativity of the Lord Jesus Catholic Church
2425 Myersville Rd.
(330) 699-5086

It may be a little early, but this is a special Christmas edition of Interesting Akron. I wanted to give you the chance to check it out before the holiday season gets into full swing!

Like many Northeast Ohio cities, Akron has its fair share of churches with prime examples of Gothic architecture and turn-of-the-century paintings, statues, and stained glass. There are also a few more modern places of worship with unique attractions (Trust me, I’ll cover Ernest Angley’s Cathedral Buffet closer to Easter).

The Church of the Nativity near Springfield, OH boasts a detailed replica of the shrine at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. This display includes a representation of the cave where Jesus was born. And just like the actual shrine, there’s a hole in the floor surrounded by a star-shaped metal plate to represent the birthplace that goes all the way to the earth, which is filled with a stone that came from the actual site in Bethlehem (pictured above, on the end of the top row). According to our guide, this is one of only two such replicas in the country, the other being in Washington, D.C.

The replica is actually part of a small chapel in the basement of this otherwise very modern church, which was built in 1977. The chapel includes an Alter of the Nativity, the Alter of the Magi (with samples of frankincense and myrrh, as you can see in the center photo of the second row), and a manger with a little plastic Jesus napping away (center photo, top row). Mass is celebrated in the chapel each Tuesday at 2 p.m., but there are only a handful of seats, so the truly devout will have to show up a little early.

The Chapel is also open by reservation or before and after Mass, which is celebrated on Saturday at 4:30 p.m. and Sunday at 8:30 a.m. and 11 a.m.

Also located in the church basement is a Nativity scene collection with figurines from all over the world depicting the birth and adoration of baby Jesus. My personal favorite is carved out of pieces of coconut shell (the final photo in the second row).

The church has a few other fun details worth checking out on your trip. The pastor’s right-hand pooch is represented in a stained glass window and you can take a tour of the stations of the cross through the wetlands behind the property.


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