Pope Francis blesses nativity scene made by craftsmen in Guatemala

 

Pope Francis spent time in silent prayer in front of a nativity scene handmade by artisan craftsmen in Guatemala on Dec. 3, 2022. / Photo courtesy of the Embassy of Guatemala to the Holy See. See CNA article for full slideshow.

Vatican City, Dec 3, 2022 / 12:00 pm (CNA).

Pope Francis blessed a nativity scene on Saturday that was handmade by artisan craftsmen in Guatemala.

Guatemala’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Mario Búcaro led a delegation that traveled from the Latin American country to be present for the nativity scene’s inauguration in Vatican City’s Paul VI Hall on Dec. 3.

“It is the first time in history that our country presents a nativity scene in the Vatican, a beautiful work of sacred art, personally delivered to Pope Francis and, therefore, also a gift from the people of Guatemala in anticipation of Christmas,” Búcaro said.

Guests of the Embassy of Guatemala to the Holy See at the nativity's inauguration. Embassy of Guatemala to the Holy See
Guests of the Embassy of Guatemala to the Holy See at the nativity’s inauguration. Embassy of Guatemala to the Holy See

The nativity scene was made by the combined effort of more than 30 artisans. It features the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Joseph, wearing large golden crowns, in a manger surrounded by angels.

Nativity scene handmade by artisan craftsmen in Guatemala. Embassy of Guatemala to the Holy See
Nativity scene handmade by artisan craftsmen in Guatemala. Embassy of Guatemala to the Holy See

At the nativity’s inauguration, Pope Francis explained that the nativity scene tells of “the birth of the Son of God who became man to be close to each of us.”

“In its genuine poverty, the nativity scene helps us to rediscover the true richness of Christmas,” the pope said.

“Simple and familiar, the nativity scene recalls a different Christmas from the consumerist and commercial one. … It reminds us how good it is for us to cherish moments of silence and prayer in our days, which are often overwhelmed by frenzy.”

In St. Peter’s Square, the Vatican has also displayed an outdoor wooden nativity scene hand carved from alpine cedar trees from Italy’s northeasternmost region, Friuli-Venezia Giulia.

Pope Francis recommended silent prayer and contemplation of the Christ child in a nativity scene as an intimate experience of God’s humility and tenderness.

Pope Francis blessed a nativity scene that was handmade by artisan craftsmen in Guatemala on Dec. 3, 2022. Vatican Media
Pope Francis blessed a nativity scene that was handmade by artisan craftsmen in Guatemala on Dec. 3, 2022. Vatican Media

“And if we really want to celebrate Christmas, let us rediscover through the nativity scene the surprise and wonder of littleness, the littleness of God, who made himself small, who was not born in the splendor of appearance, but in the poverty of a stable,” Pope Francis said.

The Guatemalan nativity scene will remain on display in Paul VI Hall until January 8, when the Church celebrates the feast of the Baptism of the Lord.


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2 Comments

  1. Francis’ Vatican nativity displays have generally aroused opposition for artistic expression in conflict with orthodox Catholic truth, goodness, and beauty. This has ranged from the homoerotic to space-age-Lego-style statues or figurines. The 2021 display featured not camels but llamas, draped in the Peruvian flag. The wise men carried gifts of quinoa and potatoes. Such a focus on animals, foods and flag specific to one nation sufficiently negates the universal Church and excludes the truth of the Nativity as told by Scripture.

    This year’s Nativity features Mary and Joseph as royalty dressed in sparkling gold leaf and wearing large, elaborate crowns of gold. This is contrary to the material poverty of the Holy Family as implied in scripture. Also curious is the shielding of eyes by an angel. Is this because the Infant Jesus appears so bright as to dazzle one and cause an angel to hide his eyes; this, despite Jesus describing angels as witnessing the sight of God’s beatific face in heaven. Finally, we have the dumb and non-reasoning sheep who stretch and strain their necks to look up to see Him.

    Would that the Vatican Nativity selection team under Francis could learn from such sheep.

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