Vatican returns Jesus ′crib fragment′ to Bethlehem | News | DW | 29.11.2019
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Vatican returns Jesus 'crib fragment' to Bethlehem

A piece of wood worshipped as part of the manger in which Jesus was born has been returned to the Holy Land. The relic — an early Christmas present from the Vatican — will go on display at a church in Bethlehem.

A procession and mass were held in Jerusalem on Friday to mark the return of a wooden fragment reputed to be from the crib of Jesus Christ.

The thumb-sized wooden fragment, part of a relic stored in the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome — was described as a "gift" from Pope Francis to a Franciscan order of monks in Bethlehem.

The Custody of the Holy Land priory, which was presented with the fragment, said it came from relics donated to the papacy in the seventh century.

"It has contributed for centuries to marking the religiousness of the faithful in Rome and from elsewhere," the priory said.

While the provenance of such ancient relics is often questionable, they are revered by the faithful.

Read more: Israeli archaeologists unearth 1,500-year-old Byzantine church

 The pieces were a gift from Patriarch of Jerusalem St Sophronius to Pope Theodore I.

"It has contributed for centuries to marking the religiousness of the faithful in Rome and from elsewhere," the priory said.

After a day of celebrations, the piece was set to be transferred from Jerusalem to Bethlehem. Once there, it will go on permanent display at St Catherine's Church.

St Catherine's is adjacent to the Church of the Nativity in Manger Square — the reputed site of Jesus' birth and a popular place of pilgrimage for Christians throughout the year.

rc/rt (dpa, Reuters, AP)

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