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Christmas to be celebrated this year in Bethlehem with arrival of a relic of Christ’s crib

Christmas celebrations this year in the biblical city of Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank will have a different texture with the arrival in the city today of the relic of Christ’s crib.

The relic, kept at Santa Maria Maggiore church in Rome, was a gift to the Custody of the Holy Land from Pope Francis after President Mahmoud Abbas requested Pope Francis to return the relic to its original place, Bethlehem, where Christ was born.

The relic arrived yesterday at the Notre Dame in Jerusalem before it was moved to Bethlehem where it will be on display at St. Catherine Cathedral in the Nativity Church on the eve of the start of the Christmas celebration and where tens of thousands of Christian pilgrims are expected to arrive during this month.

Opening hours have been extended this year, and for the first time, at the Nativity Church to meet the accommodate the millions of pilgrims and tourists visiting the Palestinian city.

The Christmas tree will also be lit tonight at Manger Square in Bethlehem in ceremonies attended by Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh and other officials and religious leaders.