Tradition has it that while Mary was nursing baby Jesus in this grotto, a drop of breast milk fell to the ground, turning the whole place white. And true enough, the serene Grotto of the Lady Mary is a milky white colour throughout. The Milk Grotto – as it is commonly known – is hollowed out of soft white rock, resulting in its irregular yet intriguing shape.
A church was first built above the grotto in the fourth century, and today a Franciscan chapel stands there, just two minutes’ walk from the Church of the Nativity. The mesmerising sound of nuns singing can often be heard echoing through the underground chambers. Both Christians and Muslims believe scrapings from the grotto’s tones boost the amount of milk mothers produce, and enhance fertility. Scrapings are traditionally placed under the mattress of women trying to get pregnant, and mothers mix a little into their drinking water or food.