Christmas Nativity Scenes: from St. Francis to Crib relics

2012-12-24 Vatican Radio

(Vatican Radio) In churches, piazzas and in homes all across Italy, nativity scenes or "presepe" as they’re called here have been set up to recall the humble birth of the Savior in Bethlehem.

Naples has for centuries been the capital of nativity scene-making here in Italy, with craftsmen creating elaborate figures, animals and entire villages out of clay and paper mache’. Pictures and paintings of the nativity have been around since the very first Christians used them to record Christ’s coming. But the tradition of making a three dimensional creche dates back to the time of St. Francis of Assisi who is credited with making the first live nativity scene on a hillside in Umbria, Italy, around the year 1220.

Tracey McClure spoke to Elizabeth Lev, Professor of Christian art and architecture with Ducane University about the origins of nativity scenes and where some of the most interesting can be found here in Rome….

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