A ST Ives Church has cancelled its annual live crib – and instead will have a model of the wall the Israelis have built around Bethlehem. In place of their popular nativity scene, complete with live animals, the Sacred Heart Church has decided to erect

SEPARATED: Children from the Holy Family Crèche, a church-run orphanage in Bethlehem, holding hands against the wall. 
Picture: HELEN DRAKE 8303 and SUPPLIED

A ST Ives Church has cancelled its annual live crib - and instead will have a model of the wall the Israelis have built around Bethlehem.

In place of their popular nativity scene, complete with live animals, the Sacred Heart Church has decided to erect a life-size replica portion of the Separation Wall outside the church.

The replica wall will be built on Friday and large protest banners and photographs will be put on it to show the plight of the people living in the Holy Land.

Father Paul Maddison, who has been parish priest in St Ives for five years, said: "The lives of the ordinary citizens of Bethlehem have been devastated by the building of the wall around their city. It affects every aspect of their lives. One man I spoke to only gets to see his family for a short time because they are separated by the wall."

The Church of the Sacred Heart is twinned with the Catholic parish in Aboud village on the West Bank. Since 2003, Father Maddison and other groups from St Ives have made regular trips to take donations and lend support to the Aboud villagers.

Father Maddison added: "I returned from my fifth visit to the Holy Land four weeks ago where the situation has deteriorated greatly and is pretty grim for the people living on each side of the wall."

Father Maddison said when he announced his plans to abandon the usual Christmas nativity scene at mass on Sunday the

congregation burst into applause.

Father Maddison said: "I know it is the right thing to do and the people in the church are supporting me. Imagine the effect an eight-metre high wall between Huntingdon and St Ives would have on the towns. "

The church is also asking for people to make donations to pay for food and

medical supplies in the Holy Land. So far, the church has received £250 from people in St Ives.

INFORMATION: To support the project, donations should be sent to: Holy Land 2003, PO Box 140, St Ives, PE27 9AP with cheques made payable to Holy Land 2006.