"A young girl, far from home, delivering her own baby in a barn in the middle of the night after an exhausting trek across rough country. but she has the intelligence - the wit - to see that a manger full of hay looks just like a cradle.
Such a girl is a wonder in any age.
Whatever happened to that manger? If you visit the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, you'll see a grotto with a marble floor and a silver star to mark the spot of the birth of Jesus (history holds that the orginal stable was in a cave, which makes sense, with the Babe in swaddling clothes parallel to the linen wrapped Saviour in the rock-cut tomb). There's no manger in sight.
But, in the Church of St Mary Major in Rome, there are five small boards of sycamore wood from the Middle East that have been traditionally referred to as the crib of Bethlehem. This isn't one of those improbable relics from the Middle Ages that showed up out of nowhere; since at least the fifth century, there's been a chapel at St Mary Major fitted up to represent the cave at Bethlehem, and the evidence is that the chapel was built specifically to house those boards.
|St Mary Maggiore, Rome|
It's been the site of the first papal Mass of Christmas since the seventh century........"