Beit Jala is a small town near Bethlehem, with inhabitants not exceeding ten thousand: 70% are Christians and the rest are Muslims. Along with Bethlehem and Beit Sahour, Beit Jala forms a triangle where many Christians live. It is believed that the name Beit Jala is derived from the Syriac word Calla, meaning, collection of stones. While others think that it is derived from another word, Gyliwa which means happiness. This name is mentioned in the Holy Bible. History tells us that people began to live in Beit Jala when Christianity was spreading widely. Saint Nicola, in the 5th century, spent all his life in a small cave where a church has been built recently. Saint Theodosius came to Beit Jala, for prayer only, and settled near a place called Kathisma or Qadismo well that lies in Jerusalem-Bethlehem road.
Infrastructures of the Latin Patriarchate
The Latin Patriarchate School was the first school opened in the town in 1854. Initially, It was for boys only and two years later, girls were welcomed. The Orthodox Patriarchate established another school for girls in 1858. The Anglican Church had its own school with a special interest in teaching languages. The Diocesan Seminary, established in Jerusalem in 1852 was transferred to Beit Jala in 1936. The LPJ school was a primary school until 1994. Thereafter it serves as a secondary school with all educational stages: English, French, laboratory for physics, chemistry and biology, religious activities, physical training festivals. The Rosary Sisters came to serve the parish in 1856. Several organizations were established: Scouts in 1950, Saint Vincent Association in 1953, Legion of Mary in 1956 and Ladies of Our Lady of the Annunciation in 2005.
Latin Christians: 2,500