Two Verona foundries helped make the 1,100-pound door which measures 21/2 meters (81/4 feet) in height and 4 meters (13 feet) in width. The gift was to the Franciscans, custodians of the Holy Land.
A large star marks the center of the door, with a bas-relief of the Nativity. On the sides are depicted the Annunciation, Joseph´s dream, the adoration of the Magi, St. Francis, and John Paul II during his Holy Land trip.
The door was officially given to Bethlehem, at a ceremony held in Verona, which is twinned with the city of Christ´s birth. Hanna Nasser, the mayor of Bethlehem, attended the ceremony.
“Our people are without hope,” said Franciscan Father Ibrahim Faltas, who is responsible for ecumenical relations at the Basilica of the Nativity. “Many have lost their jobs; many families, including Christians, have been expelled from their homes. The hour has come to open the doors of peace. May this door be a good omen.”