It took a cadre of police to separate brawling monks who clashed with broomsticks inside the Church of Nativity in Bethlehem, one of Christianity's holiest places, on Wednesday.
The monks had been cleaning the church at the time, an annual tradition — hence the brooms. The church is shared among Roman Catholics, Greek Orthodox and Armenians. According to the Associated Press, the dispute began because one group accused another of infringing on the other's space inside the church.
A fragile status quo governs relations among the denominations at the ancient church, and to repair or clean a part of the structure is to own it, according to accepted practice. That means that letting other sects clean part of the church could allow one to gain ground at another's expense. Similar fights have taken place during the same late-December cleaning effort in the past.
Monks fighting inside a church is quite a spectacle. Fortunately for all of us, there's video: