Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Aleteia
Wednesday 04 August |
Saint of the Day: St. John Vianney
home iconArt & Culture
line break icon

Holy relics of Jesus’ crib to be returned to Bethlehem

RELIC

Fr. A. Damasus Karakatsanis-Schrenk | Twitter | Fair Use

Patty Knap - published on 11/27/19

The wooden fragments have been in Rome since they were whisked away after the Muslim conquest of the Holy Land.

Among the most holy relics in all of Christendom are wooden fragments of the crib of Our Savior, Jesus Christ.

They will now be returned to Bethlehem, where the Holy Baby was born.

The sacred crib was revered and guarded by Christians until it was brought to Rome in the seventh century, after the Muslim conquest of the Holy Land. The wooden fragments have been under the main alter of the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome. According to the basilica’s website, the crystal reliquary is shaped like a crib that “contains pieces of ancient wood which tradition holds to be part of the manger where the Baby Jesus was laid.”

The mayor of Bethlehem, Anton Salman, told the Palestinian news agency WAFA, the decision to return the relics came about after President Mahmoud Abbas’s recent visit to the Vatican. On that occasion, Abbas asked Pope Francis for the return of the relic, according to Reuters. There has been ongoing discussion over whether Western collectors and museums should retain or return objects considered holy to their countries of origin.

The relics will arrive on November 30, the day the Palestinian town traditionally lights its Manger Square Christmas tree. Several events including a procession will honor the arrival of the fragments, which will be displayed in the Notre Dame complex, near the Old City of Jerusalem’s New Gate. On Saturday, another procession will escort the relics to Bethlehem, from where they originally came and where they will remain.

“We’re excited and grateful to the pope, the Holy Father Francis, for this gift and the right to preserve this holy relic,” the costos of the order, Fr. Francesco Patton was quoted by Haaretz.com.

“This is a very significant event for us, when a relic of the crib of baby Jesus, which left Bethlehem in the seventh century, makes its way back to the Holy Land. Its return is a joyous event in advance of Christmas, which marks the birth of Jesus Christ our Savior, and does great honor to believers and pilgrims in the region.”

“It is an historic move. It returns to its original place, and it will be a factor of attraction to believers from inside Palestine and to tourists from all over the world,” said Amira Hanania, a member of Abbas’s Higher Committee of Churches Affairs.  “To celebrate Christmas with the presence of part of the manger in which Jesus Christ was born will be a magnificent and huge event.”

Tags:
Relics
Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read Aleteia.org every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...




Top 10
1
Saint Mary of the Angels
Bret Thoman, OFS
All your sins will be forgiven if you go to a Franciscan church o...
2
Ignacio María Doñoro
Francisco Veneto
The military chaplain who pretended to be a criminal to rescue a ...
3
CARLO ACUTIS
Violeta Tejera
Carlo Acutis’ first stained glass window in jeans and sneak...
4
JEDZENIE
Theresa Civantos Barber
The one thing we all should do before this summer ends
5
Philip Kosloski
Most priests can’t absolve these sins
6
ANTENUCCI
Ary Waldir Ramos Diaz
1st Feast of Our Lady of Silence is August 1
7
Zelda Caldwell
World-record winning gymnast Simone Biles leans on her Catholic f...
See More