Bethlehem, the birth-place of Jesus literally means 'house of bread' . It is possible that the town had a good concentration of bakeries, from which oven-baked bread of prized quality was bought by the people of adjoining areas. It looks coincidental that Jesus frequently used the image of 'bread' in His teachings, culminating in the institution of Holy Eucharist. I wish to know if any studies have been made by the Catholic Church on the co-relation of the name of Jesus' birth place and His teachings in which bread plays a prominent part.

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    It's quite reasonable for someone who describes himself as the bread of life to come from a house of bread, no? Note that bread is synonymous in Greek with food and possibly any form of sustenance e.g. knowledge.
    – Simon H
    May 11, 2017 at 10:45

1 Answer 1


Has there been a formal study done by the Church? Not necessarily. But there are plenty of books and articles and homilies and podcasts on the topic:

  • Blogs:
    • desiringgod.com - Bethlehem: House of Bread
    • archspm.org - I know Jesus was born in a manger, but why is that important and what does it mean?
  • Books:
    • The Eucharist: A Bible Study Guide for Catholics
    • Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist: Unlocking the Secrets of the Last Supper
    • The Hidden Manna: A Theology of the Eucharist
    • The Lamb's Supper: The Mass as Heaven on Earth
    • Consuming the Word: The New Testament and The Eucharist in the Early Church
  • Podcast:

The short answer is yes, the name 'house of bread' has significance when relating to His other teachings. Christ was born in a manger in the town 'house of bread.' Let's break that down.

What exactly is a manger? A manger was used as a feeding trough for the swine. So the obvious significance here is that Christ was born and immediately laid in a place where food is eaten from. Think of the symbolism here: Jesus would institute the Eucharist, His own flesh and blood for us to consume, the same flesh and blood that was born into a feeding trough. And where was that feeding trough? The house of bread! His flesh would be presented in a trough for us to eat under the disguise of bread. Manger in the house of bread, Bread of the Eucharist on the altar.

Another point, 'manger' comes from a French word that means 'to eat.' When translated from Greek, John chapter 6 uses the same word when Jesus says to eat (or chew) his flesh. (https://fellowshipoftheminds.com/2012/12/30/the-meaning-of-jesus-being-born-in-a-manger/)

There is also some symbolism about Him being born into a feeding place of swine because the Jews could not eat pork, but that is for another topic...

  • @bradimus Edited.
    – J. Tate
    Sep 19, 2017 at 16:15
  • Welcome to Christianity.SE. For a quick overview, please take the Site Tour. For more on what this site is all about, see: How we are different than other sites. Thanks for providing a well-referenced answer here. I hope you'll browse some of the other questions and answers on this site. Sep 19, 2017 at 17:37
  • About "feeding trough for the swine": I agree with "feeding trough" but I don't think Jews would be raising swine. Sheep, goats, and cattle would be the likely users of a manger. Sep 19, 2017 at 22:39
  • That point is well taken and tradition would back you up. But it is hard to say for sure. There are plenty of examples in the Gospels that deal with swine (the herd cast into the water, the prodigal son feeding the swine, etc.) so it is not out of the realm of possibility. Plus the swine/Jewish symbolism is a side point here regardless.
    – J. Tate
    Sep 20, 2017 at 13:08
  • Hey I would just like to add a point I found interesting regarding beth-lehem, as I understand it beth-lehem in aramaic and now in Arabic has the meaning "house of flesh/ meat" (beit-lahm), I think there is a clear indication to the eucharist here. Devine orchestration perhaps.
    – Matthew jk
    Mar 2, 2022 at 3:39

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