Home > Sources : Bethlehem Parish Books

Sources : Bethlehem Parish Books

The sacramental registers of the parish of St. Catherine in Bethlehem are kept in the Archivio Storico della Custodia di Terra Santa, Jerusalem (http://it.custodia.org/default.asp?id=417). The archive contains different kind of documents related with the Franciscan presence in Palestine: account books, court rulings, contracts of sale, lists of alms etc. Sacramental books start in the 17th century, consistently with the spread of Catholicism among the local Christians.

books1.pngFigure 5 Archivio Storico della Custodia di Terra Santa, St. Saviour Monastery, Jerusalem. Photo: F.T.

Sacraments were usually registered in small paragraphs, each recording the date and the place in which the sacrament was administered; the name of those who received it; the name of his/her parents and other details, such as the name of the godparents. The language of the books is Latin with some Italian and Arabic words.

scroll.pngFigure 6. Page from the Registrum Coniugatorum of the parish of Bethlehem, starting in 1672. Archivio storico della Custodia di Terra Santa, Jerusalem. Photo: FT

The sacramental books of Bethlehem represent one of the most complete collections of parish records from Palestine. The first volume, “Registrazioni miste” (Archivio Storico della Custodia di Terra Santa, Parrocchie, Betlemme Santa Caterina. Sacramenti, 1616-20/12/1671), records baptisms starting from 1619, and burials and nuptials from 1633 and 1652 respectively. This database is based on a second series of book starting in 1669 and extending well into the eighteenth century. This includes a Registrum baptizatorum (11/05/1669-08/12/1721) and a Registum coniugatorum et defunctorum huius parochiae S. Caterinae…. (ab anno 1669-1735, Registrum coniugatorum (28/08/1672-19/06/17350 ff.1-68) and Registrum defunctorum (07/10/1669-18/01/1735, ff. 1-95).