JERUSALEM — Christians are celebrating the return to the Holy Land of a tiny wooden relic they believe was part of Jesus’ manger nearly 1,400 years after it was sent to Rome as a gift to the pope.
The thumb-sized relic was unveiled to worshippers Friday at the Notre Dame church in Jerusalem for a day of celebrations and prayer.
On Saturday, it will be sent to its permanent home at the Franciscan Church of St. Catherine, next to the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, the West Bank holy site where tradition says Jesus was born. Its arrival will coincide with Advent, a four-week period leading up to Christmas.
The Vatican says Pope Francis returned the relic to the custodian of Catholic religious sites in the Holy Land as a gift.