Eim Karem has been traditionally a Christian Holy Land pilgrimage site, and where Christians believe Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist, became miraculously pregnant, and gave birth to John the Baptist. The scriptures read that Elizabeth received a visit from family, which included Mary, who was also pregnant at the time with Jesus. The two women sat near a village well and Mary drank from its fresh waters. Today this very well is called Mary’s Well. Pilgrims visiting the site today drink from the well and take holy water in bottles considering it holy. The village since Jesus time grew and is a popular stop during Holy Land pilgrimage tours. A natural spring which provides water to the village stimulated settlement from early period, with pottery having found in the nearby area dating back to the middle Bronze age.
Starting from the Byzantine era some 1,500 years ago many churches were built in Ein Karem. Today there’s only a few open including some active monasteries. A Catholic and Orthodox church are both named after John the Baptist, and were built in the 19th century atop of ruins of previously built churches. On the Catholic Church of St. John the Baptist you will find an ancient mosaic floor and grotto.
The well known Church of Visitations was built in 1955, atop of the ruins of a Crusader Church built in the location of the home where John the Baptist parents lived during Mary’s visit with Elizabeth. There’s a large stone that the church was built around, and on this stone Elizabeth hid John the Baptist from Herod’s soldiers, who under the Massacre of the Innocents decree of King Herod were ordered to kill all children under the age of two.
Many Christian Holy Land tours begin at Mary’s Well, which has become a popular meeting place, and a wonderful spiritual experience to pilgrims. You’ll find Ein Karem breathtaking beauty, simplicity, and charm touching during your visit to this beautiful village, and one of the highlights of your Holy Land trip.