A relic wood of Jesus’ manger. Photo Credit: Reuters
A remain of a piece of wood believed to have been part of Jesus’ manger is set to be returned to Bethlehem after than 1,000 years being kept in Europe.
The return of the thumb-sized artifact was ordered by Pope Francis from Rome’s Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore as a gift.
The relic that had been kept in Rome since the 7th Century was briefly displayed in Jerusalem before proceeding to Bethlehem to coincide with the beginning of Christmas celebrations.
Officials told journalists that the piece of wood would be kept in the Franciscan Church of St Catherine adjacent to the Church of Nativity, where it is traditionally believed that Jesus was born.
Custodia Terrae Sanctae, the in charge of the Catholic religious sites in the Holy Land said the tiny piece of wood believed to have formed part of the crib that Jesus lay in after being born was donated to Pope Theodore I in the 7th Century.
According to him, the relic was donated by the Patriarch of Jerusalem, St Sophronius.
The BBC quotes AP news agency that Louisa Fleckenstein, a guide for pilgrims visiting the Holy Land said:
“My heart is beating. I’m really crying from joy for this event and thankful also for the Pope, for this kindness that he brought to Bethlehem.”
Bethlehem’s mayor, Anton Salman, told Palestinian news agency Wafa that the return was a request from the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas during a recent visit to the Vatican