by Judi M.A. McLaren
From Sinner to Blessed Saint
Worshiped as a saint on July 16, 1228, Giovanni di Pietro di Bernardone received the Holy word of God and was afflicted by the stigmata as proof of repentance for his past sins of drunkenness. Gambling and moral infidelities, St. Francis of Assisi is contributed for displaying the first known Nativity scene in 1223. As documented by St. Bonaventure, a fellow Franciscan Monk who archived the life of Francis, by Papal allowance of His Holiness Honorius III St. Francis set up a live display in Grecio, Italy.
By using depictions of actors, an ox, a donkey and the first worshippers knelt among hay, and the Manger scene became the backdrop for St. Francis’s preaching of devotions for the Holy child of God every eve of His birth. So reverent was the grotto setting that it is proclaimed to be the sight of healing of sick oxen who were healed after eating the straw. And thus, was brought forth, St Francis of Assisi, the Patron Saint of sickness among animals and the environment.
Faith as an Art Form
In fact, the word Nativity is derived from the Latin meaning nasci, or to be born. The artisanal displays themselves grew in popularity over the centuries. In one area of France, the ornate value of the material was far too expensive for an average family in 1797 that displaying or owning one was banned.
By the mid 1800’s, Tomáš Krýza (1838–1918) of the Czech Republic spent sixty years on an elaborate display, which features 1389 figures of humans and animals and is now housed in a museum in Jindrichuv Hradec. Although not as extravagant, the Art Institute of Chicago claims ownership to their own 18th-century Neapolitan style Nativity, depicting more than 200 figures.
The Representations that Should be in a Nativity
Be humble or more extravagant, your Nativity scene is something you should take visual and realistic pride in. Suppose you prefer the solitude portrayal of Mary and Joseph cradling their newborn babe, of an entire village scenario on that brilliant star-lit night. In that case, you may want to consider collecting the ten basic figurines that should at some point be adorned within the vestiges of the Nativity.
- Our Holy infant
- Luke and Mark as shepherds tending to the “flock” of holy word dwellers.
- Peter, the fisher of men to spread the Holy word and gather more followers.
- The midwife who bears witness to the purity of the Mother.
- The wandering girl who cradles her own child under guise of a rock wrapped in swaddle; the rock which later was brought to life as a child.
- The Inn, stable or grotto cave.
- 2 gambling shepherds who denote the sinners who are absolved.
- Benin, the named sleeping shepherd, the teller of the tale or the “dream weaver” who binds the threads of the Holy birth.
What better way to display the devout spirit you and your family keep within your heart than to own your own Nativity scene. The upcoming Holiday season is the perfect gifting time for friends, coworkers, peers, and family members alike and by finding the true craftsmanship hand carved into each piece, a Nativity from The Jerusalem Export House will make the spirit shine brighter and tithe us all closer as one.
May the comfort of knowing our faiths are shared globally as we commit to keeping our practices Holy and pure under His law anoint each and every one of us, this year and for lifetimes to follow.