The Christmas Cave, venerated as the birthplace of Jesus, is located in Bethlehem in the West Bank. However, the location of the cradle where baby Jesus is said to have been laid remains a matter of debate with one theory saying that it was taken away from Jerusalem nearly 1,400 years ago.
The Missionaries of Divine Revelation, a female Roman Catholic community, claim that the remains of Jesus' manger are lying in an Italian shrine.
The sisters allege on their webpage that the relic is located in the Basilica of Saint Mary Major in Rome, also referred to as Our Lady of the Snows.
What is said to be the trough for cattle breeding that newborn Jesus was laid in after nativity is encased in a crystal reliquary? It rests on the shoulders on four golden angels and is adorned with a Baby Jesus lying on a bed of straw a nod to the Biblical account that Virgin Mary gave birth to the Son of God in a stable in Bethlehem.
According to the group's website, through the lucid crystal one can see wooden slats made of red maple "that are typical of Bethlehem". The reliquary is said to be as few as 200 years old; the previous one, made in the 1600s, was allegedly stolen by Napoleon's plunderers.
The missionaries believe that the remains of the manger came to Rome from Jerusalem in 636 A.D when forces of the Islamic Rashidun Caliphate besieged Jerusalem, which belonged to the Christian Byzantine Empire at the time.
Then-Patriarch of Jerusalem, Sophronius, shipped the relic to Rome to keep it safe from the invaders with the help of Pope Theodosius.