Milk Grotto (from Arab. Magharet es Sitti Mariam, the Grotto of the Virgin Mary) - semi-natural grotto in Bethlehem in Palestine in the Judean Desert. Since ancient times, the Christian pilgrimage site, owned by the Custody of the Holy Land, the Marian shrine, the Church of the Franciscan monastery.
By continuous act of taking away tuff, it difficult to determine the original form and size of the Milky Grotto. This practice has been described in detail in 1250. Sanctuary has suffered damage from Muslims who destroyed both the monastery and chapel erected over the grotto. Custody of the Holy Land came into possession of the Milky Grotto in 1375. In 1494 the Franciscans were able to restore the cave and put in the middle the altar.
In the sixteenth century, part of the cave collapsed during an earthquake. Ottoman bureaucracy and treatment of Greek Orthodox monks prevented any work. Franciscans in 1871 built near the cave oratory and convent, which have survived to our times.
In 2006 archaeological surveys were carried out and a new church and chapel were built. Both designed by Italian architect Luigi Leoni.