The sacred relic is back in its place of origin just in time for Advent.
“And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.” (Lk 2:7).
Luke is the only evangelist to tell us about the circumstances of Christ’s birth from the Virgin Mary. A relic of this famous manger, once flanked by the donkey and the ox and visited by the Three Wise Men, has once again returned to its place of origin: Bethlehem. Children are quite familiar with the little cradle of the Child Jesus, which is always the last figure added the Nativity scene when they return from Christmas Mass.
Offered by the Patriarch of Jerusalem to Pope Theodore I in the 7th century, the relic was venerated by thousands of pilgrims from all over the world at the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome. On Friday, November 29, the holy relic arrived in Jerusalem and was transferred the next morning to Bethlehem.
The news was announced by the Custody of the Holy Land, the Franciscan community entrusted by Rome with the care of Catholic holy places. The series of celebrations was inaugurated with a Mass, celebrated by the Apostolic Nuncio Leopoldo Girelli at 9 a.m. in the chapel of Our Lady of Peace. After Mass, the faithful had the opportunity to venerate the relic. Once in Bethlehem, it visited the church of St. Catherine next to the Basilica of the Nativity on the very day Advent began.