The grotto has been a site of veneration since the 4th century, the first structure being built over it around 385 A.D. An irregular grotto hollowed out of soft white rock, women who are trying to conceive especially frequent this site. According to tradition, while Mary and Joseph were fleeing Herod’s soldiers on their way to Egypt, they stopped in this cave while Mary nursed the baby Jesus. A drop of Mary’s milk fell upon the stone and it turned white. Rows of framed letters and baby pictures sent from around the world to the Milk Grotto testify to the effectiveness of the “milk powder” and prayer.
The Franciscans erected a church around the Milk Grotto in 1872. In 2007 a modern chapel dedicated to the Mother of God was opened.