Music + Arts

Nativities of the World

This morning the Arts & Our Faith Committee unveils a colorful exhibit for the Advent/Christmas season.

Among the many gifts that St. Francis of Assisi bestowed on the Christian tradition is the Nativity scene. Inspired by his pilgrimage to the Holy Land, Francis staged a living Nativity – with human beings and livestock – in a cave near Greccio, Italy, in 1223. The tradition spread throughout Europe and, during centuries of colonial expansion, throughout the world.

During Advent, Nativity scenes (most of them with statues and figurines, rather than live shepherds and lambs!) are commonplace in churches and museums, and in private homes. Virtually every Nativity scene depicts the holy family, angels, shepherds, and an animal or two, all crowded around a humble stable. But at the same time, every Nativity is unique, a reflection of the artist’s culture and perspective, and a product of the materials at hand.

This exhibit features creches on loan from members of the church, as well as images of inventive Nativity scenes from Africa, Asia, Europe and the America. The exhibit is based on the book Nativities of the World by Susan Topp Weber (Gibbs Smith, 2013).