Occupied Bethlehem: A fragment of wood reputed to be from the manger where Jesus was laid after his humble birth arrived in Bethlehem from the Vatican on Saturday, kicking off Christmas season at the town revered as the place of Jesus’ birth.
The wood piece, just a few centimetres long, was once kept in the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome.
It was handed over earlier this week to the custodian of the Bethlehem church, who said it brought “great honour to believers and pilgrims in the area”.
The provenance of ancient relics is often questionable.
Still, they are revered by the Christian faithful, among them the coach loads of pilgrims who squeeze through a narrow sandstone entrance in the Church of the Nativity to visit the birth grotto that is its centrepiece.