The Octagonal Church is a Byzantine Church dedicated to Mary’s trip to Bethlehem. According to Christian tradition, the pregnant Mary rested on a large flat rock just off the ancient Jerusalem-Bethlehem road during her trip from Nazareth to Bethlehem to participate in a census.

Excavations began in 1992 when construction workers widening the Jerusalem-Bethlehem road hit a wall of the Church with a tractor.

The Octagonal Church is the largest church dedicated to Mary and its influence is shown in the octagonal shape of the Dome of the Rock. In the center of the church is a large flat rock, believed to be the seat of Mary on her trip. A mosaic floor was also uncovered, mostly from the 7th century, but in places the original 5th century floor peeks through.


See also-

  • “Strata,” BAR Jan-Feb 1998.