Christian worshipers on Saturday welcomed the Custodian of the Holy Land, Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa, and other senior priests on their arrival in Bethlehem.
The West Bank town is recorded in the Bible as the birthplace of Jesus.
Pizzaballa's arrival in the biblical town marks the beginning of the festive season of Advent, when millions of Christians around the world make their preparations for Christmas.
Colorful flags decorated Manger Square outside the Church of Nativity and a marching band played as high ranking religious clerics arrived in the town.
Three Christian denominations - the Armenians, Roman Catholics and Greek Orthodox - share control of the church in the West Bank town.
The Custodian of the Holy Land is the Pope's envoy to the Middle East. He is the major superior of the friars in the Palestinian territories, as well as in Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon, Cyprus and Rhodes.sign up to our newsletter