About 400 years ago Franciscan monks began teaching residents of Bethlehem the art of carving Holy Land Olive wood. Over the centuries the art of olive wood carving has been perfected, passed down from generation to generation.
Today modern technology somewhat speeds the process but still, each piece of olive wood is hand-carved by skilled craftsman requiring 6 or 7 years of training to create a quality product. The care and craftsmanship that goes into carving Holy Land Olive wood is obvious when you hold an olive wood carving in your hand and feel the fine grain and see the magnificent detail.
Every two years the olive trees are pruned so that they bear fruit. These hand-carved masterpieces are made by Christian craftsman living in Bethlehem. They work with the branches produced by the pruning’s. These beautiful handmade crafts make perfect gifts.
Star of Bethlehem Handicrafts begins with aging the wood for more than two years. We store the wood in hermetically sealed rooms to slow the desiccation process. Our process generates a more refined grain, preventing cracking and illuminating the wood’s natural beauty.
We are Christians from the town of Bethlehem, the birthplace of Christ. We are volunteers sent to the USA by the Bethlehem Catholic Mission to sell the native religious carvings created by the local artisans.
Christians in Bethlehem are rapidly becoming a minority. The locals, who once depended on tourism for their livelihood, are looking for new ways to keep their families rooted in the Holy Land. Fifty years ago, Christians made up 70 percent of Bethlehem’s population; today, only about 15 percent. The Christian population of the entire West Bank – mostly Greek Orthodox and Roman Catholic, with Copts, Russian Orthodox, Armenians, and others – is dwindling.
Carving with olive wood is traditional work in Bethlehem, Christian families consider it a main source of income. Olive trees, also known as the Peace Tree, produce the different kinds of olive wood. Our items range from olive wood rosaries to full Nativity sets, angels, Christmas ornaments, crosses, statues, and the Holy Family. They are all handcrafted by the Catholic artisans in Bethlehem.
When you purchase our one of a kind, hand-carved items; you are helping to keep this ancient tradition alive in the Holy Land!
The highly skilled and trained Holy Land artisans can tell the age of the woods by the volume of its grain and color. We are committed to using our knowledge of the olive tree to create the most unique and one of kind sculptures for our clients.