1. An order of knights, established by Pope Pius II on Jan. 18,1459. The chief mission of this order was to fight against the Turks, and to oppose their farther advance in Europe. Their chief seat was to be at Lemnos. They were to have an elective grand master, and to embrace knights and priests. Their costume was to be white, with a red cross, and for their support the pope assigned to them the property of several military orders which he suppressed. As the Turks soon after retook Lemnos, the order of the knights of Bethlehem was suppressed See Dictionnaire des Ordres Religieux, 1, 472.

2. An order of English monks. Our information of this order is very meagre. According to Matthew Paris (Hist. Anglic. p. 639), they obtained in 1257 a residence at Cambridge, England, and had a costume similar to that of the Dominicans, with the oily exception that they wore on the breast a red star with five rays and a small disc of blue color, in memory of that star which, according to the Scriptures, guided the Eastern magi to Bethlehem at the birth of the Savior. The time of the foundation of the order, its subsequent development, and its specific object are not known. All the authors which speak of it confine themselves to a description of the costume, and even with regard to this there is a discrepancy in their statements, as Schoonebeck (Histoire des Ordres Religieux) reports that it was black. One author (Hadrian Dammand) speaks of star-wearing knights, and it has therefore been doubted whether the star-wearing knights" and the Bethlehemites were the same order (with different costumes), or two different orders. — Wetzer und Welte, 1:687.

Bible concordance for BETHLEHEM.

3. An order of monks and nuns in Central America, founded at Guatemala about 1660. The founder of the order was Pierre de Betencourt, born in 1619 at Teneriffe, one of the Canary Islands. He showed from boyhood a great predilection for an ascetic life. In 1650 he made a voyage to Guatemala, and while there resolved to enter the priesthood, and to become a missionary in Japan. To that end he studied for three years in the college of the Jesuits; but, making no satisfactory progress in his studies, he became a tailor, and subsequently a sexton. In 1655 he distributed his savings, twenty piastres, among the poor, entered the third order of the Franciscans, and established a free-school for poor children. Soon after he established a hospital and several more schools, and began to receive associates, whom he organized into a "Congregation of Bethlehem." He died April 25, 1667. Some time before his death he had sent Brother Anthony of the Cross to Spain for the purpose of obtaining the royal sanction. of his hospital. The patent did not arrive at Guatemala until eight days after his death. It commanded the Spanish authorities not only to protect the new congregation, but to seek to enlarge it. The bishop of the diocese received similar orders, and he accordingly granted to them the right of publicly celebrating in their church the mass. After the death of Betencourt, Brother Anthony became his successor as chief of the congregation, and gave to it, in accordance with the wish of the founder, a regular monastic constitution, which, after some opposition on the part of the Franciscans, was approved by the bishop. The main object of this order is to look after and attend to the sick in hospitals. Pope Innocent XI approved of the order in 1687, and commanded the Hospitallers, or brethren of the order, to follow the rule of Augustine. They wear round the neck a medal representing the birth of Jesus Christ at Bethlehem; and as to their dress, they follow the Capuchins, but wear shoes, and have a leathern girdle round the waist. A female branch of the order was founded at the same time by Mary Ann del Galdo. The parent-house is at Guatemala, and there are about forty houses in Central and South America Helyot, Ord. Religieux, 1, 477; Wetzer und Welte, 1, 688.

Definition of bethlehem

See also the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.

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