(ANSA) - Tel Aviv, November 29 - A bit of the reliquary of the Holy Cradle of the Baby Jesus, currently kept in Rome's Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore (St Mary Major), has been donated by Pope Francis for various celebrations in Jerusalem. The wooden fragment was donated to the Custodian of the Holy land who got it on Friday.
After the Jerusalem celebrations the fragment will be taken to Bethlehem, to the Church of St Catherine, alongside the Basilica of the Nativity, for the Christmas period. Under the high altar of the Rome basilica is the Crypt of the Nativity or Bethlehem Crypt, with a crystal reliquary designed by Giuseppe Valadier said to contain wood from the Holy Crib of the nativity of Jesus Christ.
Donated by the patriarch of Jerusalem, Saint Sophronius, to Pope Theodore I (642-649), the reliquary has been the object of veneration by the faithful from Rome and all over the world for nearly 1,500 years. Every day countless pilgrims from all over the world come to contemplate it in St Mary Major.