A fragment of wood, consigned by the Vatican, purported to originate from the manger where Jesus was laid within after his birth, arrived in Bethlehem Saturday just in time for the Christmas season.Before its transfer to Bethlehem, the relic was put on display to the public at the Notre Dame of Jerusalem Center Friday, encased in a silver-colored ornamental table-top stand.The artifact was greeted in Bethlehem by a procession of marching bands the as it arrived to be placed within the Saint Catherine’s Church on November 30, adjacent to the Church of the Nativity in Manger Square - adjudged as the birthplace of Jesus Christ.The arrival occurs on the same day the city of Bethlehem traditionally lights its Manger Square Christmas tree and is surrounded by echoes of underlying meaning to the city and the Christian populace throughout the area.“It is an historic move. It returns to its original place, and it will be a factor of attraction to believers from inside Palestine and to tourists from all over the world,” Amira Hanania, a member of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s Higher Committee of Churches Affairs. “To celebrate Christmas with the presence of part of the manger in which Jesus Christ was born will be a magnificent and huge event.”The wood piece, just a few centimeters long, was sent in the 7th Century by the Patriarch of Jerusalem, Saint Sophronius, as a gift to Pope Theodore I. It was handed over this weekend to the custodian of the Holy Land churches Francesco Patton, who said it brought “great honor to believers and pilgrims in the area.”Pope Francis entrusted the 2,000 year old miniature relic stemming from manger "in which Baby Jesus was laid," with the Custos of the Holy Land for the Catholic Church as a gift - similarly to how the artifact was originally gifted by Saint Sophronius to Pope Theodore I, 1,400 years ago. Its return coincides with the beginning of Advent, the period of four Sundays and weeks leading up to Christmas. Devout Christians use this time to prepare themselves and remember what the real meaning of Christmas is about, and the second coming of Jesus Christ.“We are excited and thank the pope, the holy father, Francis, for the gift and the right to safeguard the holy relic,” the Custos Patton said.Mayor of Bethlehem Anton Salman told Wafa news agency that the return of the relic was requested by Palestinian President Abbas during his recent visit to the Vatican to meet with the Pope."A thousand years ago, Rome was busy collecting relics from the East to build itself up as an alternative Jerusalem. Now, Rome is strong enough that it can return relics to Jerusalem and Bethlehem," Dr. Yisca Harani told Haaretz, adding that she describes this return as an "inversion of history." Whereas originally these relics were brought to Rome to develop the city into somewhat of a "second Jerusalem" if you will for Christian pilgrims from all over the world to visit - gifting these artifacts to the wider public is something that is becoming more commonplace lately, inverting the original philosophy.Earlier this year, Pope Francis returned bone fragments that are believed to have belonged to Saint Peter to the Eastern Orthodox Church - intended to bring the Orthodox and Catholic Christian denominations closer together.The provenance of ancient relics is often questionable. Still, they are revered by the Christian faithful, among them the coachloads of pilgrims who squeeze through a narrow sandstone entrance in the Church of the Nativity all year round to visit the birth grotto that is its centerpiece - and the countless more who went to Rome each year to see the fragment of the famous manger will now travel to Bethlehem to receive the same experience, as an indication of wider inclusiveness of the Christian faith.After night fell, the traditional lighting of the Christmas tree ceremony was underway as hundreds gathered at Manger Square to celebrate the start of holiday season.Bethlehem, in the West Bank, is always busy ahead of Christmas on December 25, especially for Christians who make up around 1% of the Palestinian population in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem. To make it even more relevant, Bethlehem is one of the few places where they have and celebrate three separate Christmas' - December 25 for the Western churches of Protestant and Catholic denominations, January 6 for the Eastern Orthodox Churches and January 19 for the Armenian Churches.Reuters contributed to this report.