Mary and Joseph were staying in Bethlehem at the time of the nativity, or birth, of Jesus. All the inns in the town were full, so Jesus had to be born in the humblest of surroundings - a stable.
The Gospels (p. 21) tell how a virgin called Mary gave birth to Jesus Christ in Bethlehem. Followers of Christ (Christians) believe that Jesus was God's son, and that the prophets of the old Testament had predicted he would come and save humankind from sin. The idea that God became human in this way is called the incarnation, meaning that
God's spirit was made into human flesh. The birth of Jesus marked the origin of the Christian religion.
> John carries a banner bearing Latin words meaning "Behold the Lamb of God"
. John wears camel-hair clothes, the typical garments of a prophet
The angels play instruments that were popular in the 16th century, when this altarpiece was made
Mary is traditionally shown wearing blue
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