One Hundred Nativity Scenes in the Vatican

Source: FSSPX News

Over 100 nativity scenes are on exhibit near St. Peter’s Square at the initiative of the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization, in the hopes of spreading awareness of the history and spirituality of this nearly 800-year-old devotion.

“The nativity scene, in addition to being a beautiful cultural tradition transmitted [by] the genius of St. Francis of Assisi and spread throughout the world, is a strong instrument of evangelization,” Archbishop Rino Fisichella, the president of the pontifical council, said at the exhibit’s opening. 

The exhibit is entirely free and presents 126 nativity scenes from five different continents made out of very different materials, including one made out of red coral.

St. Francis of Assisi (1181-1226) created the first Nativity scene in 1223, in a grotto in Greccio, placing a live ox and ass by a manger full of hay. And Mass was celebrated on the manger that served as an altar.

St. Bridget of Sweden (1303-1373) received the vision of a mystical nativity scene in which “the Blessed Virgin was kneeling in an attitude of prayer and great veneration.”

The annual “100 Nativities” exhibit was started in 1976 by Italian Manlio Menaglia, who worried that the Catholic devotion was being overshadowed by other Christmas decorations. This is the first year that the nativity exhibition is under the leadership of the Vatican. 

The exhibit can be viewed inside the St. Pius X Hall along the Via della Conciliazione. It is open every day from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. through January 13, 2019.