Vatican nativity does away with the manger

Dec 21st, 2009 | By | Category: Signs of the Times (click on article name)

Vatican nativity does away with the manger

By Malcolm Moore in Rome
Published: 12:43PM GMT 14 Dec 2007

Telegraph co.uk

Vatican Nativity SceneFor 25 years, the Christmas Nativity scene in front of St Peter’s Basilica has shown the infant Jesus in a manger in Bethlehem.

This year, however, the Vatican has decided to radically change the scene, shifting it to Nazareth, and placing Jesus in his father’s carpentry shop.

When Pope Benedict XVI inaugurates the life-size Nativity scene on Christmas eve, the sheep and hay will be gone.

In their place will be a model of three rooms.

Jesus will lie in Joseph’s shop, complete with “the typical work tools of a carpenter”.

On one side, the shop will be flanked with a “covered patio”, while on the other there will be the “inside of a pub, with its hearth”.

The news came in an official statement from the State Department of the Vatican, which organises and builds the giant presepe, or Nativity scene.

The new setting was inspired by two verses in St Matthew’s gospel, Chapter 1:24 and 1:25, the Vatican said, which state: “When Joseph woke up, he did as the Angel of God ordered and took Mary into his house. Without them knowing each other, a child was born and he called his name Jesus”.

The Pope before JosephThe gospel goes on to mention Jesus’ birthplace as Bethlehem, but a spokesman for the Vatican said a decision had been made to place the scene in Nazareth regardless.

“It was time for a change,” said the spokesman “and a return to St Matthew’s gospel”.

The traditional depiction of Jesus in a manger comes from St Luke’s gospel, which said there was “no room at the inn”.

But it is Matthew’s gospel which forms the basis for the Angelus prayer, and the view of Jesus in a carpenter’s workshop matches the Franciscan tradition.

None of the three Vatican departments which organises the Nativity scene could comment on who had taken the decision to shift the location, or for what reason.

However, sources close to the Vatican said there was a desire to crack down on the various “fanciful Nativity scenes” that have sprung up in recent years.

In Naples, a number of Nativity scenes include notorious figures from today, such as Elvis Presley or Silvio Berlusconi, standing amongst the crowd adoring the infant Jesus.

The Nativity scene at St Peter’s was started by Pope John Paul II in 1982.

In addition, a giant, fully-adorned Christmas tree has been erected in St Peter’s Square.

Meanwhile, the Catholic Church has said that it was its “right and duty” to spread the word of Christ to non-believers.

A new document from the Vatican’s doctrinal department rejected accusations that the Church aggressively converts its members.

The Russian Orthodox Church has accused Rome of trying to poach souls in the former Soviet Union. However, the Vatican said evangelisation was its “inalienable right and duty”.

“The incorporation of new members into the Church is not the expansion of a power group, but rather entrance into the network of friendship with Christ which connects heaven and earth, different continents and age.

“It is entrance into the gift of communion with Christ,” the document said.

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4 comments
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  1. I don’t get it are we showing Jesus as an infant in the carpenters room
    or as a carpenter ? And doesn’t nativity mean just that nativity
    And where was his nativity???
    Who is this pope trying to kiss up to?
    And for what?

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  2. Apparently this story came out in 2007.

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  3. You are right, never noticed that. Thanks. Someone had sent us the article

    Here is a site that shows the new scene

    Our reason for posting it, was that it shows that “Church traditions of man” are put on a higher level than the Word of God.

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  4. […] They allowed traditions of man equal weight with God’s Word (you can see that in an article on the Vatican Nativity scene here, though it is an older article it does show that they prefered to harmonize tradition rather […]

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