BETHLEHEM, West Bank — A tiny wooden relic believed to have been part of Jesus’ manger has returned to its permanent home in the biblical city of Bethlehem 1,400 years after it was sent to Rome as a gift to the pope.
Sheathed in an ornate case, cheerful crowds greeted the relic Saturday with much fanfare before it entered the Franciscan Church of St. Catherine next to the Church of the Nativity, the West Bank holy site where tradition says Jesus was born.
The return of the relic by the Vatican coincides with Advent, a four-week period leading up to Christmas.
The Palestinians welcomed the relic as a spirit-lifting occasion as Bethlehem braced for Christmas, where pilgrims from around the world flock to the city in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
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