Home   |  About Us   |  Contacts   |  Products    
 News Items:
 News Briefs
 Word To Life
 More News:
 Special Sections:
 2006 in review
 Inside the Curia
 Vatican II at 40
 John Paul II
 Other Items:
 Client Area
 Did You Know...

 The whole CNS
 public Web site
 headlines, briefs
 stories, etc,
 represents less
 than one percent
 of the daily news

 Get all the news!

 If you would like
 more information
 about the
 Catholic News
 Service daily
 news report,
 please contact
 CNS at one of
 the following:
 (202) 541-3250


 This material
 may not
 be published,
 rewritten or
 (c) 2007
 Catholic News
 Conference of
 Catholic Bishops.

 CNS Story:

VATICAN-NATIVITY Dec-26-2007 (520 words) With photo. xxxi

Vatican Nativity scene places Christ's birth in edifice in Bethlehem

By Carol Glatz
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Vatican Nativity scene in St. Peter's Square places the birth of Christ in a dilapidated edifice in Bethlehem.

A statue of the baby Jesus lies in a straw-filled manger, while angels carved by Mexican sculptor Agustin Parra watch over him and the figures of Joseph, Mary and the three Wise Men look upon the child. Carvings of a curious ox and donkey strain their necks against a wooden gate to gaze on the scene while taxidermy goats and lambs graze outside the damaged building.

The scene, unveiled in an early evening ceremony Dec. 24, was the revision of an earlier description by the Vatican which had planned to place the birth of Christ in Joseph's house in Nazareth.

The Vatican office in charge of the creche's construction originally had taken its inspiration from an account in Matthew's Gospel: "When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home. He had no relations with her until she bore a son and he named him Jesus."

The central scene had been designed to be Joseph's dwelling and his carpentry workshop, according to a Dec. 13 written statement by the office for technical services for Vatican City.

But the idea of depicting Jesus' birth in Joseph's home in Nazareth had caused a stir in much of the press.

After its official unveiling less than two weeks later, the central scene depicted a large, bare room with crumbling plaster, a rickety staircase leading to a small balcony inside a broken-down building with a missing column and a cracked archway.

The Vatican's written description next to the Nativity scene in the square says: "The scene for this year's Nativity recalls the painting style of the Flemish School of the 1500s."

According to the new text, the scene's inspiration no longer comes from Chapter 1, Verses 24-25, of the Gospel of Matthew, but from Chapter 1, Verse 23, and Chapter 2, Verse 1, which say, respectively, "'Behold the Virgin shall be with child and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,' which means 'God is with us'" and "When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of King Herod ...."

The Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, confirmed in its Dec. 24-25 edition that the St. Peter's Square Nativity scene was "set in Bethlehem."

Flanking the central scene of Christ's birth in a manger are landscapes depicting daily life: a carpentry workshop and "an eatery where people normally gather, while the nearby road recalls the flight into Egypt (on) which Joseph and Mary will soon be forced to embark," the written description in the square said.

Pope Benedict XVI got a partial glimpse of the freshly unveiled Nativity scene when he briefly appeared at his apartment window Dec. 24 and lit a candle on his windowsill as a symbol of peace.

The Vatican Nativity scene will remain in the square until the Feb. 2 feast of the Presentation of the Lord.


Copyright (c) 2007 Catholic News Service/USCCB. All rights reserved.
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed.
CNS · 3211 Fourth St NE · Washington DC 20017 · 202.541.3250