Kathisma, also known as the Church of the Seat of Mary, is an ancient site where Mary and Joseph—according to legend—stopped to rest on their way to the City of David. The word “kathisma” is Greek for “seat.”
Located in what was the Byzantine Empire, between Jerusalem and Bethlehem, the Kathisma was originally an octagonal church. A wealthy widow named Ikelia built the church in 456 to honor this holy place, which was rediscovered in an archaeological dig in 1992.
At Kathisma, the widow Ikelia supposedly helped begin a new tradition for Candlemas. Forty days after the birth of Jesus on Christmas Day, monks at the Kathisma would lead a procession with white candles to commemorate the Purification of Mary.
You can visit Kathisma on your next pilgrimage to the Holy Land and walk alongside Mary and Joseph on their journey to Bethlehem.
To learn more interesting facts about historic Marian sites, check out Fr. David Vincent Menconi’s 101 Surprising Facts About Mary, sold here.