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The cover of the English version of Christmas at the Nativity by Pope Francis (CNS/New City Press)

Whether simple or elaborate, the same every year or constantly changing, a Nativity scene echoes “the beauty of our faith”, Pope Francis has written in the introduction to a new book. Source: CNS.

Marking the 800th anniversary of St Francis of Assisi putting together the first Christmas crèche in a cave in Greccio, Italy, the Vatican publishing house compiled texts by Pope Francis about Nativity scenes and asked him to write a special introduction.

A key message of the Nativity scene is that the mystery of Christmas “loves to hide within what is infinitely small,” the Pope wrote in Christmas at the Nativity.

“Awe and wonder are the two feelings that move everyone, young and old, before the Nativity scene, which is like a living Gospel overflowing from the pages of Holy Scripture,” he wrote.

“The Incarnation of Jesus Christ remains the heart of God’s revelation, although it is easily forgotten that its unfolding is so unobtrusive, to the point of going unnoticed,” the Pope wrote. “Littleness, in fact, is the way to encounter God.”

“Safeguarding the spirit of the Nativity scene becomes a healthy immersion in the presence of God manifested in the small, sometimes trivial and repetitive, everyday things,” he continued.

“The shepherds in the manger are those who welcome God’s surprise and live in wonder at their encounter with him, adoring him: in littleness they recognize the face of God,” he said. “Humanly we are all inclined to seek greatness, but it is a gift to know how to really find it: to know how to find greatness in that smallness that God so loves.”

On Christmas night, the angels lead the shepherds to a baby born in a manger – “not a sign of power, self-sufficiency or pride. No. The eternal God is reduced to a helpless, meek, humble human being. God lowered himself so that we could walk with him and so that he could stand beside us, not above and far from us.”


Pope: Contemplate greatness of God’s love in simplicity of a crèche (CNS via USCCB)