“Of all the historic places in Christendom, two are more sacred than any others.”

Stanley Slotkin leaned forward from the high-backed, ornately carved chair at his desk and thoughtfully turned a small rock over and over in his hand as he talked.“One is the place where Christ was born. The other is where he was crucified. There is no her say, no guessing about those two places. We know for a fact where they are.”The small stone Slotkin was absorbed with came from the Holy Land – St. Jerome’s Cave to be exact.The cave, or tunnel, which connects St. Catherine’s Church of the Nativity built over the manger where Christ was born, had collapsed in part.While Slotkin was visiting the churches in February he noted the workmen digging in the grotto and asked if he could have several pieces of the rock to bring back to Catholic friends here, including Father Charles Casassa, president of Loyola University.Slotkin explained that he felt that the stones from no more than 20 feet from the place where Jesus lay in the manger would have great meaning for his Christian friends.Then the more he thought about it, the more he felt that the rock would have meaning for many.Through the Franciscan priest in charge of the work,  an Arab friend, George Shammas and the Mayor of Bethlehem, Elias Bandak, he arranged to bring 2 ½ tons of the rock to the United States.“Wait until customs gets it,” said Slotkin.When the rock does arrive in Los Angeles Slotkin plans to have the 2 ½ tons broken up into pieces weighing about four ounces each.These will be mounted on a heavy cardboard imprinted with a cross and a letter of authenticity from Bethlehem’s mayor. There should be about 20,000 pieces of rock to be given away, Slotkin believes. He plans to give them to anyone who comes into one of the Abbey Rent outlets around the country and asks for them.