A fire broke out in Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity early Tuesday morning when an oil lamp fell over and set some wall hangings alight.
The fire in the Grotto of the Nativity, the cave traditionally identified as the birth place of Jesus, was put out by the time the Bethlehem fire service arrived on the scene.
Some of the wall hangings and pictures were damaged in the blaze and the Bethlehem police opened an investigation into the incident, Israel Radio reported.
The fire came two days after Pope Francis visited the site during a trip to the region.
Arson was suspected as the cause of a separate fire that caused minor damage at a Jerusalem church Monday night, hours after Francis held a service nearby.
Witnesses said the fire, at the Dormition Abbey, was deliberately set. They told police they saw a man taking a candle and lighting the guestbook on fire before fleeing. The nearby pipe organ sustained damage but the fire was quickly put out, Army Radio reported. Police opened an investigation into the incident.
Hours before the fire, Pope Francis held a mass at the Cenacle, or upper room, on a site thought to be where Jesus held his Last Supper.