This pendant is handcrafted by local artisans in the Bethlehem area. Notice the carved X in the middle. It is the symbol of the letter xhi in Greek (the language in which the New Testament was originally written), which is the first letter of the name Christos.
The cross is the ultimate symbol of Christian faith, communicating the sacrificial love of God. The cross Jesus died on was an instrument of torture used by the Roman Empire occupying the first-century Holy Land. According to the New Testament, Jesus’ death and resurrection made it possible for us to receive forgiveness of our sins and reconciliation with God (Romans 5:8). The cross is thus transformed into a symbol of life and love.
About this Traditional Palestinian Craft
The making of jewellery and decorative items from Mother of Pearl is perhaps Bethlehem’s oldest and most established industry. The practice supposedly came to Bethlehem in the 15th century with the arrival of Franciscan friars. Locals soon mastered the art and made a modest living selling handmade items to the many pilgrims who streamed into Bethlehem. Traditionally, the sea shells and abalone were brought in from the Port of Aqaba on the Red Sea but now they are imported from Australia, California, New Zealand, and Brazil. Palestinian Christians, particularly the Zoughbi family in Bethlehem, have often received international recognition for their mastery of this art form. For more information about the history of Mother of Pearl Carving in Palestine, visit the 2007 publication of “This Week in Palestine”.