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  • Writer's pictureDavid Carlson

991: As with most pregnancies, Jesus could show up anytime. Meanwhile we sit in profound hope

Day 991: Friday, December 2, 2022

As with most pregnancies, Jesus could show up anytime between now and then. Meanwhile we sit in profound hope.

This manger starts off empty like this. Week by week straw, oxen, sheep, and then Joseph and then Mary. As with most pregnancies, Jesus could show up anytime between now and then. Meanwhile we sit in profound hope. Don’t we?

- Jerry Rickard

We look forward to the progress of all the characters into your creche Jerry!

A bit of history; Saint Francis of Assisi is credited with popularizing the crèche back in the 13th century.

Francis’s biographers tell us that Christmas held special meaning for the monk, and he celebrated the birth of Christ with great joy. He wrote a number of Christmas hymns in Latin and in Italian, including “Psalmas in Nativitae.”

In his book The Christmas Crèche, Matthew Powell writes, “The saintly friar did see clearly the need to visualize in a tangible manner the events surrounding Christ’s birth. He knew the need people have to see, and not just to hear about, the sacred events of their salvation.”

It was St. Francis’s intention to re-create the atmosphere of the birth of Christ as closely as possible. According to St. Bonaventure, St. Francis was determined to keep the first nativity a solemn occasion “lest he should be accused of lightness or novelty.”

St. Francis received permission from the Pope, and he planned his special service for Christmas Eve in Greccio, Italy, which is about halfway between Rome and Assisi. Interestingly, the word “crèche” is most likely a French derivative of Greccio, which is pronounced “Grecho.”

St. Bonaventure writes, “Then St. Francis prepared a manger, and brought hay, and an ox and an ass to the place appointed. The brethren were summoned, the people ran together, the forest resounded with their voices, and that venerable night was made glorious by many and brilliant lights and sonorous psalms of praise.”

Accounts are unclear whether a live baby or a wooden or plaster representation of Christ was used in first Greccio nativity scene, but accounts are clear that live cow and donkey were there at the cave along with a live Mary and Joseph.

St. Bonaventure describes the scene this way, “The Saint stood before the crib and his heart overflowed with tender compassion; he was bathed in tears but overcome with joy. The Mass was sung there and Francis, who was a deacon, sang the Gospel. “

Using the manger as his alter, Francis preached to the people about the birth of Jesus, referring to Him as the “the babe of Bethlehem.”

The following Christmas, the people of Greccio and the surrounding area reconstructed the place of Jesus’ birth in other caves and stables, and the nativity tradition began to grow and spread. There were even claims that original elements, such as hay, of the 1223 nativity cause miraculous healings.

Although some historians credit St. Francis with creating the first crèche, scholars such as Powell and Nesta De Robeck instead stress his influence on the tradition rather than his creation of it.

With the 1223 crèche, St. Francis presented the Gospel in a way everyone could understand. “The most lettered of men could understand Francis’s presepio as well as any doctor of theology.” “His realism made the Nativity as real to those Umbrian peasants as the birth of their own children; he gave into the arms of his followers that most precious of all babies, the Bambino Gesu.”

November 27, Emmaus Liturgy video

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