Christmas Nativity Scenes: from St. Francis to Crib relics
(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….