Take a little trip with me through the history of the Vatican Nativity Scenes.  It is a wild ride.  With a strange ending.

>A short history of the Vatican Nativity

The Vatican Nativity in Saint Peter’s Square is relatively new. It was started by Pope John Paul II in 1982.

For 30 years, the same figures were used, but the Vatican paid for a new scene each Christmas.

It was actually Archbishop Viganò who approached Pope Benedict in 2011 with the costs for the yearly crèche.The total costs for building the scene went well into the hundreds of thousands each year. This was around the time of Vatileaks.

An idea was then suggested to have a nativity donated from different regions of Italy, and that began in 2012.

I’m sure they meant well, but it opened the door to new takes on the nativity. Most turned out nicely.

We talk about the Vatican crèche and more on the latest podcast.

Here are a few shots using the original figures that I took in previous years.

2012 Donated by Basilicata

This was the first year to use new figures. They did a great job with the scene, but the figures were so tiny.

📸 L’Osservatore Romano

📸 L’Osservatore Romano

📸 L’Osservatore Romano

2013 Donated by Naples

Pope Francis’ first nativity. A bit crowded.


Vatican unveils Nativity scene on pope’s first Christmas

Agence France Presse

VATICAN CITY: Pope Francis on Tuesday prepared to celebrate his first Christmas as pontiff with a mass in St Peter’s Basilica as a giant traditional Nativity scene named in his honourwas unveiled on St Peter’s Square.

The Nativity scene made by Naples artisan Antonio Cantone this year is entitled “Francis 1223 — Francis 2013”– a reference to St Francis of Assisi, who inspired the pope’s choice of name when he was elected.

The saint is commonly credited with being behind the first representation of the Nativity, staged with live actors as is still done in many parts of the world.

Cantone told AFP ahead of the ceremony that he had wanted to build a Nativity to reflect the pope’s humble style, giving more prominence to ordinary people dressed in simple clothes in the traditional scene of the birth of Jesus.

“I have based the scene on the message of Pope Francis,” Cantone said in an interview in his workshop in the bustling centre of Naples earlier this month.  (BUT, isn’t Christmas supposed to be to honor Jesus Christ, and celebrate his birth?  Why is the pontiff being lifted up, honored and made the center of the focus?)

“The first to arrive when Jesus was born were ordinary people, that is the core of the message I wanted.”

Elaborate Nativity scenes became popular in Naples churches in the 18th century to make religious teachings more widely understandable by including snapshots of daily life that people could relate to.

The custom was then adopted by the aristocracy and spread to ordinary people, becoming a yearly and much-loved tradition for millions of Italians.

The most traditional statuettes are painstakingly handcrafted out of terracotta, given glass eyes and painted — each one a unique work of folk art.


Streamed live on Dec 24, 2013
(en) In the afternoon of Christmas Eve the Holy Father attends the official opening of the Nativity Crèche in St. Peter’s Square, offered this Year by the Diocese on Naples (it) Inaugurazione del Presepe in piazza san Pietro


2014 Donated by Verona

A nice set with traditional figures. Not the most exciting backdrop, but it worked especially well at night.

2015 Donated by Trento

Another nice scene and figures. In the tradition of Italian nativities, the figures are wearing clothes from Trento and the building is in the same style as their architecture.

2016 Donated by Malta

This was following the horrible earthquakes in Amatrice and Norcia. So many nativities around the country featured damaged buildings and ruble. The cross on its side was shocking, but we lost many churches in the earthquake and this was a nod to them.

Naturally, coming from Malta, they placed a MALTESE CROSS/NAZI CROSS/ TEMPLAR CROSS in within the display.  It is set apart in a very prominent position.  Can’t be missed. (seen above)

What I found even more disturbing is the VERY PROMINENT MARK OF MAMMON/MARK OF THE BEAST/MARK OF THE ANTICHRIST, the circle and the cross hairs.  They are claiming that it is a cross turned on it’s side.  However, the imagery is very clear!  (seen below)


A closer look to the nativity scene in St. Peter’s Square


2017 Donated by Naples

Supposed to highlight the corporal works of mercy, this nativity caused lots of controversy with a buff naked guy and a dead arm hanging off a stretcher. I took lots of pics and posted about it here.


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Dec 22, 2017
Pope John Paul II began the tradition of a nativity scene at the Vatican in 1982. This year’s scene has all the hallmarks of Pope Francisincluding a reference to the migrant crisis. Vatican Correspondent Juliet Linley takes us to the creche, complete with six-foot-tall figures with handmade costumes


2018 Donated by Veneto

Sandseemed an odd medium for a nativity, but it worked. Though made of sand, the figures are of traditional style and tastefully done.  (The New Christianity built on SAND?  Actually, I am more concerned that the Sand medium signifies the AI NEW AGE built on the sand used to make computer components.) 


If you notice the real focul point of this sculpture is the SUN SYMBOL in the middle at the back.  The angle rising above it is actually pointing to or holding up a little bitty star.  You can’t even see it unless you really zoom in on it.  This is supposed to be the Star of Bethlehem??  I think the angel is a Fallen Angel possibly representing Lucifer and the SUN in the SOL INVICTUS.  Whose birthday is celebrated on December 25.  


Can you find the star???


The pictures below were snipped from the beginning of the above video.  The film came from the unveiling of the sculpture.  WHAT THE HECK is that idol prominently displayed above all the people seated in the room lit with candles?  




Catholic Sat
This year’s Vatican Nativity scene in St. Peter’s Square will be made entirely of sand, in the tradition of the Dolomites, in the province of Venice. A sneak peak from the studio





Rome shows Christmas crib made of sand

This year, the Bethlehem nativity scene is modelled on St. Peter’s Square from sand, which was specially delivered from the Adriatic town of Jesolo.  An annual sand sculpture festival takes place there.

History of Jeslo
Already existent in the 6th Century C.E., when certain populations were forced to flee the Barbarian Invasions in the north, and to hide on the Isle of Equilio. At that time, the first inhabited location was in the marshy zone, eventually named Cavazzucherina in the 15th Century. It was only in the 1920s, however, that the Grande Bonifica or Great Reclamation allowed for the possibility of seaside tourism for the first time ever. The first beach establishments, along with hotels and restaurants, rose up, and in 1927 the Lido di Treviso came into being at the littoral middle.
Nel 1930 Cavazuccherina became Jesolo– and the Lido di Treviso Lido di Jesolo – in 1930. The city grew intensely in the Post-War period, particularly as a result of the increased tourism activity, and it eventually transformed into one of the most important hubs for tourism on the AdriaticSource

St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican in Rome is decorated with Christmas decorations: a Christmas crib is erected next to the 23-metre-high (23 meters = 75.4593) Christmas tree. From afar it looks like stone (a mockery, because God builds with Stone, so this statue is a masquerade…a fake. Looks like stone but is only shifting sand.) but if you look closely you can see its fragility: 700tons of sand were formed into Christmas flu by four sculptors from the USA, Russia, the Czech Republic and the Netherlands

The crib and the Christmas tree, which is equipped with energy-saving lighting for the first time, will remain in place until the end of the liturgical Christmas season on January 10. Pope Francis visits the ensemble on New Year’s Eve after a thanksgiving service at the end of the year.


2019 Donated by Trento

Another great showing by Trento. Again, they included traditional dress and architecture. They went even further by including some actual locals as well. Again, this is in keeping with Italian tradition and making the nativity relatable.


Pope Francis: Don’t forget the real meaning of Christmas

The 2019 Vatican nativity scene and Christmas tree. Credit: Vatican Media.

.- Ahead of the Vatican Christmas tree lighting Dec. 5, Pope Francis expressed hope that the nativity scene in St. Peter’s Square will serve as a reminder of what Christmas is truly about.

A nativity scene “is a genuine way of communicating the Gospel, in a world that sometimes seems to be afraid of remembering what Christmas really is, and blots out the Christian signs to only keep those of a banal, commercial imagination,” Pope Francis told an Italian delegation at the Vatican for the Christmas tree lighting ceremony Dec. 5.

This year’s Vatican Christmas tree comes from the northern Italian region of Vicenza, which was greatly damaged by storms in October 2018. The red spruce in St. Peter’s Square is a little over 85 feet tall.

The Christmas tree lighting ceremony also revealed a life-size nativity scene carved out of wood with tree trunks from Vicenza placed in the background in memory of the storm.

“The wooden trunks, coming from the areas hit by the storms, which form the backdrop to the landscape, underline the precariousness in which the Holy Family was found on that night in Bethlehem,” Pope Francis said.

Pope Francis met with delegations from the Italian diocese of Trento, Padua and Vittorio Venetoin at the Vatican’s apostolic palace Dec. 5before the Christmas tree and nativity scene were presented.

“Today’s meeting offers me the opportunity to renew my encouragement to your people, who last year suffered a devastating natural disaster, with the demolition of entire wooded areas,” Pope Francis told the delegation.

“I was pleased to learn that, replacing the plants removed, 40 fir trees will be replanted to replenish the woods severely damaged by the storm of 2018,” he said.

The Vatican Christmas tree is illuminated by energy-saving Christmas lights from the German multinational OSRAM, to reduce the environmental impact of the display.

Osram  From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Osram Licht AG (stylized as OSRAM) is a globally active German company headquartered in Munich, Germany.[4] The “Osram” name is derived from osmium and Wolfram (German for tungsten, also used in English), as both these elements were commonly used for lighting filaments at the time the company was founded. Osram positions itself as a high-tech  photonics  company  that is increasingly focusing on sensor technology, visualization and treatment by light.[5] Photonics is at core of most Osram applications. OSRAM was founded in 1919 by the merger of the lighting businesses of AuergesellschaftSiemens & Halske and Allgemeine Elektrizitäts-Gesellschaft (AEG). Osram was a wholly owned subsidiary of Siemens AG from 1978 to 2013. On 5 July 2013, OSRAM was spun off from Siemens, and the listing of its stock began on 8 July 2013 on Frankfurt Stock Exchange.[6] Osram’s business with conventional light sources was spun off in 2016 under the name LEDVANCE and sold to a Chinese consortium.[7] After a bidding war[8] with Bain Capital, Osram was taken over by the Austrian company ams AGin July 2020 and a majority of shares was acquired.[9][10][11] Ams AG develops and produces analog semiconductor components(power semiconductors) for application in sensors and sensor interfaces. The operating company of Osram is Osram GmbH.

Cardinal Giuseppe Bertello and Bishop Fernando Vérgez Alzaga chaired the Vatican Christmas lighting ceremony. The nativity scene and Christmas tree will remain on display in St. Peter’s Square until January 12, 2020, the feast of Christ’s Baptism.

Pope Francis began Advent with a trip to the Italian town of Greccio, where St. Francis of Assisi created the first nativity scene in 1223.In Greccio, Pope Francis signed the apostolic letter,Admirabile signum, on the meaning and importance of nativity scenes.

“All those present experienced a new and indescribable joy in the presence of the Christmas scene. The priest then solemnly celebrated the Eucharist over the manger, showing the bond between the Incarnation of the Son of God and the Eucharist,” Pope Francis wrote in the letter describing the St. Francis’ first nativity.

“As we contemplate the Christmas story, we are invited to set out on a spiritual journey, drawn by the humility of the God who became man in order to encounter every man and woman. We come to realize that so great is his love for us that he became one of us, so that we in turn might become one with him,” Pope Francis said.  (That is a complete misrepresentation of the Plan of Salvation.)


I want to know why the shooting star was staged to highlight the pagan idols on top of St. Peter’s Basilica.  (the crowned snake)

I also want to know why the camera was focused on the Christmas Tree with the eight-pointed star and the corner of St. Peter’s Basilica  which shows a clock and a statue (of who, I can’t tell) but, in the the shot it looks like PAN.)

I also want to know why the only animal in the stable is a horned bull/ox and his head is over the manager.  


Hi friends! Today, i show you my new eight-pointed star and someone of their meannings:

Astrological Origin

The roots of the eight-pointed star symbolize the four corners of space. The eight lines are symbolic of north, south, east, and west; and time as well with the two solstices and two equinoxes.

The first cross is the intersection of the Galactic Equator with the ecliptic and the axis perpendicular to this intersection. When the Earth Cross and the Galactic Cross are superimposed they form an eight-pointed cross. The two separate crosses become conjunct and form a single 4 pointed cross during the moments of a Great Celestial Conjunction. After the individual crosses separate again and form an eight-pointed cross again.


user uploaded image

Use in Islam

By the middle-ages, the eight-point star is widely used as a symbol in Islamic art. It is called khatim or khatim sulayman, seal of the prophets, as in signet ring. The phrase “seal of the prophets” is also used in the Koran and has particular ideological meaning for Muslims. Moroccan zillij artisans also refer to the eight-point star as sibniyyah, sabniyyah, which is a derivative of the number seven sab’ah.

The design of the Muslim khatam was likely inspired by Jewish version, which is the Seal of Solomon. The seal of Solomon is a six point star formed by overlapping two triangles. According to the brilliant book, Beginners Guide to Constructing the Universe” Muslim legend recounts Solomon using the star to capture djinns, genies, the immaterial counterparts to humans.

The Wheel of the Year

The Wiccan Wheel of the Year is commonly represented as a circle containing eight spokes or an eight-pointed star. Each point is a major holiday known as a Sabbat. Wiccans emphasize the system of holidays as a whole: each holiday is influenced by what has come before and prepares for the one approaching next.

Best regards,




In Chinese tradition, the eight pointed star was a way to concisely depict the entirety of the Universe. It was believed that the Sky Emperor T’ai-Yi resided in a palace at the center of Heaven, at the top of the eight pointed star’s axisfrom which he ruled the eight divisions of Heaven.

These stars are known to denote life, from birth to death.


Pope Francis wants you to set up a Nativity scene to fight banal consumer Christmas

VATICAN CITY (RNS) — On Thursday (Dec. 5), the Vatican hosted a Christmas tree lighting ceremony ahead of the holidays, but it was the Nativity scene that stole the show.

This year’s Christmas display incorporates fallen trees collected from more than 100,000 acres of land ravaged by a severe storm that hit northern Italy last year.

Almost entirely made from wood, the Nativity scene ticks every box of Pope Francis’ pontificate. The plight of immigrants and refugees is depicted by the statue of a man carrying his belongings as he approaches the manger, which is the picture of poverty and humility, while the pope’s environmental message is underlined by the fact that the creche is entirely plastic-free.  (The Pope is making the entire Nativity a Political Stunt) 

In a private audience with the masons and artisans from Italy’s northern Trento region who created the creche, Pope Francis said the scene “is a genuine way of communicating the gospel, in a world that sometimes seems to be afraid of remembering what Christmas really is and eliminates Christian symbols, only to retain those drawn from a banal, commercial imagination.”

About 25 life-size characters populate this year’s scene, which depicts everyday life in the 19th century, from cheese-making to cleaning and cooking.

At its center, Mary and Joseph surround the empty manger that will host a likeness of baby Jesus on Christmas Day.

The Nativity scene is set under an almost 85-foot-tall spruce that is decorated and lit with the Vatican’s traditionally spare ornaments. During his meeting with those who donated the tree, Francis expressed his appreciation for the fact that 40 new spruces were planted in its place.

People take photos during the Christmas tree and nativity scene lighting ceremony in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican, Thursday, Dec. 5, 2019. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

But there is another side to the natural beauty of this year’s Christmas display, as it incorporates fallen trees collected from more than 100,000 acres of land ravaged by a severe storm that hit northern Italy at the end of last year.Bishops attending the ceremony on Thursday said that such events serve as a reminder of the destruction and damage that can occur if humanity does not make a concerted effort to combat climate change.  (AND THERE YA GO…Climate Change agenda.  IF you are celebrating Christmas as the birth of our Lord, you have no business using the event to promote your political agenda!)

Pope Francis has been a strong advocate for the defense and care of creation, starting with his 2015 encyclical on the environment, “Laudato Si’.”  (No, he hasn’t.  He has been promoting devotion to “Mother Earth”.  Not teaching husbandry of GOD’s creation.)

The first-ever creche was made by the current pope’s namesake, St. Francis, a friar in the Middle Ages who lived his life in poverty after rejecting his inheritance. On Sunday (Dec. 1), the pope made a point of visiting the town of Greccio, not far from Rome, where St. Francis – inspired by its rocky and Bethlehem-like landscape – chose to create the very first creche.

St. Francis enlisted real people in his Nativity pageant in 1223,but the tradition lived on to become the creches we are used to seeing today.  (just more idols used by the Catholic Church.  They love to worship statues.)

“On December 25, friars came to Greccio from various parts, together with people from the farmsteads in the area, who brought flowers and torches to light up that holy night,” the pope wrote in “Admirabile Signum,” an apostolic letter released during his visit to the historic town.

“I wish to encourage the beautiful family tradition of preparing the nativity scene in the days before Christmas, but also the custom of setting it up in the workplace, in schools, hospitals, prisons and town squares,” the pope wrote. “It is my hope that this custom will never be lost and that, wherever it has fallen into disuse, it can be rediscovered and revived.”   (God’s Word FORBIDS us to make graven images.)

According to the pope, the creche “shows God’s tender love” by placing the mystery of the divine within an ordinary setting. (that is another ritual introduced by the Catholic Church.  There is no reason to create political art and place it alongside the image of the birth of Christ)More than that, he added, the lowly setting of Christ’s birth “summons us to follow him along the path of humility, poverty and self-denial that leads from the manger of Bethlehem to the cross.”

Francis knows well that among Christian families, setting up a creche is a treasured tradition and one that he doesn’t wish to be forgotten.

“The Christmas crèche is part of the precious yet demanding process of passing on the faith,” he wrote. “Beginning in childhood, and at every stage of our lives, it teaches us to contemplate Jesus, to experience God’s love for us, to feel and believe that God is with us and that we are with him, his children, brothers and sisters all, thanks to that Child who is the Son of God and the Son of the Virgin Mary. And to realize that in that knowledge we find true happiness.”   (If that was truly the motivation, they would need nothing but Jesus, Mary and Joseph… No elaborate staging, fancy sculpting, or political theme.)


Jan 8, 2020
This Week on EWTN Vaticano for January 5th, 2020. Episode 411. Spend Christmas at the Vatican and discover the story of the Nativity scene in Saint Peter’s


2020 Donated by Abruzzo

This ceramic nativity is just a small part of 54 piece set from the 1960s and 1970s. We have a spark plug angel – or is it iron maiden torture device angel, an astronaut, and a very modern set.Behind the astronaut is an evil looking figure, maybe a knight? Seeing a horned figure, who will soon stand over Baby Jesus, at the Vatican no less, brings me no joy.Speaking of Baby Jesus, He has His head covered/blindfolded until Christmasit looks like a kidnapping. But at least the tree is gorgeous.


Don’t be fooled for one minute.  These Vatican Nativity Displays are all part of the Magick Workings of the Freemasons/Illuminati/Magi/Royals/Elite.   All of the symbolism is carefully selected and meticulously placed. This theme fits perfectly with the Alien Agenda/Space Magic going on today.  They want everyone focused on the SPACE PROGRAM and UFO’s.  They want to get people believing that traveling to space in space ships is our salvation. And/or that ALIEN’s are coming back to reclaim us.   LIES!  LIES! LIES!


Mini Pope Francis featured in Vatican’s annual 100 nativity scenes display

Archbishop Rino Fisichella at the inauguration of ‘100 Nativity Scenes at the Vatican’ Dec. 13, 2020. Credit: Daniel Ibáñez/CNA.  

.- Among the novelties of this year’s100 Nativity Scenes at the Vatican” exhibit is the inclusion of a miniature Pope Francis honoring the Christ Child. (honoring the Christ Child? Doesn’t look like that to me.)

The small statue of the pontiff is part of a piece that recreates the scene of March 27, 2020, when Pope Francis stood in a rainy and empty St. Peter’s Square to pray for an end to the coronavirus pandemic.

In addition to Pope Francis and the Child Jesus in a manger, the model depicts the front of St. Peter’s Basilica and the miraculous crucifixof the Church of San Marcello al Corso.

(Do you see Infant Jesus is on the floor which looks like snakeskin, at the Pope’s feet.  The Pope is towering over him, the most lit figure present.  In the background is Jesus, still on the cross, crucified again and again, according to the Catholic teaching. Who is the focus here? Who is the power represented here? )

The annual nativity scene display began in 1976.Before 2018, the nativities were exhibited in Rome’s Piazza del Popolo. This is the third year that the display is under the leadership of the Vatican.

But this year, for safety reasons, the nativities were moved from a building near the Vatican to the open air, under a part of Bernini’s famous colonnade, which embraces St. Peter’s Square. Wooden displays hold the nativities and protect them from the elements.

Space limitations mean the exhibit is slightly smaller this year. Archbishop Rino Fisichella, who leads the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization, told CNA that there were around 70nativities set up for viewing.

Some of the nativity scenes come from other countries. In addition to traditional Italian manger scenes, there are those that have been handmade with more unusual materials, such as paper, straw, stones, and even type from a typewriter.

Most of the scenes included have been displayed also in previous years, but there are a few new ones for 2020. For example, Vatican firemen put together a nativity scene that sits inside an old fire extinguisher.

Some of the nativities were made by schoolchildren.

The display also includes poinsettia plants and large signs with quotations from Pope Francis about the significance of the nativity.

The new location of the exhibit, under the colonnade, is where some homeless people spend the day. At night, many more sleep around the outside edge of the colonnade in sleeping bags or tents if they have them –– or on top of cardboard to protect them from the cold stone.

“Everyone will be able to stop and admire the beauty of many nativity scenes from different parts of the world and understand how much love and imagination have been put into the creation of the manger scene,” a press release from the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization said.

“If we are experiencing a feeling of sadness or loneliness, let us approach the crib and look at the Baby Jesus who wants to be welcomed. Then we too stretch out our arms, hold him and we will feel less alone,” Fisichella told Vatican News.

The New Evangelization office, which organizes the exhibit each year, said that “Christmas is the light that comes into the world to dispel the darkness of evil.”  (CHRISTMAS IS THE LIGHT??? WHAT??  CHRISTMAS ISN’T EVEN CHRISTIAN!!  JESUS IS THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD! He is the HOPE of the WORLD!  He is the ONE who defeats the enemy.)

“These Christmas holidays, it would make no sense to look away as if the dramatic moment that the whole world is experiencing did not exist. Faith requires us to look at reality and give meaning to what happens in personal history and in humanity,” it said.  (What?  We can’t give meaning to anything.  We can only seek out the will of GOD.  We can turn to him for guidance, protection and provision.  He is AUTHOR and the FINISHER of OUR FAITH!)

The display was opened to visitors Dec. 13 (12/13) and will close after Jan. 10. (1/10)

Photographs of nativity scenes by Hannah Brockhaus/


Even the Pope Seems Iffy on the Vatican’s Astronaut-Themed Nativity. Here’s How the Artwork Became a Lighting Rod

The ceramic crèche was made by art students and teachers in the city of Castelli in 1965, but it’s too avant-garde for some.

The 2020 nativity scene in Saint Peter's Square, at the Vatican. Photo by Vincenzo Pinto/AFP via Getty Images.
The 2020 nativity scene in Saint Peter’s Square, at the Vatican. Photo by Vincenzo Pinto/AFP via Getty Images.

This year has brought so many strange art-related developments, from mysterious desertmonoliths to Cookie Monster murals. And if the final square of your “Memes of 2020” bingo card was “time-traveling astronaut visiting Baby Jesus,” you are in luck. Believe it or not, this marvel comes courtesy the Vatican.

In case you missed this latest bit of news, here is everything you need to know.

Wait, what in the world are you talking about?

Two weeks before Christmas, the Vatican brought forth its annual display of its nativity scene. The tradition goes back to Pope St. John Paul II, who kicked it off in 1982.

Catholics wait with bated breath for the unveiling of each year’s sculptural set, usually donated by an Italian town. This year, the Vatican also unveiled its annual Christmas tree, a 91-foot-tall spruce from Slovenia.

The Vatican wants the Nativity scene and Christmas tree this year to be a sign of hope against COVID-19,” Rome Reports relayed at the end of October. But since its December 11 unveiling, its message of comfort has been somewhat drowned out by a wave of reaction to the display’s unconventional nature.


So, what does this year’s look like?

Well, it’s not the usual.

The figures’ bodies are defined by simple cylinders, topped by spheres for the heads, with no limbs.There’s no traditional setting, no wooden manger, no straw on the ground, just a very minimalist empty space.

It made me think of bowling pins with Baby Jesus as a ball,” one visitor told Reuters of the design.

Perhaps alluding to a landscape, a glowing light behind the figures makes it seem as though they’re being struck by lightning.

What attracts the most attention, however, is the figure who appears to be an astronaut,in a spacesuit, gripping the moon in his hands. There’s also a sinister-looking figure in a black helmet who many have compared—perhaps on account of the space theme—to Darth Vader from Star Wars.

So, where did this display come from?

The sculptures on view are part of a larger, 52-piece set created by students and teachers of the F.A. Grue Art Institute, in the town of Castelli. Started in 1965, it took a decade to complete.

Figures from the Vatican crèche, a monumental nativity scene made up of larger-than-life ceramic statues made in the village of Castelli in the Abruzzo region of Italy, at St. Peters Square in the Vatican. (Photo by Vincenzo Pinto/AFP via Getty Images.)

Figures from the Vatican crèche, a monumental nativity scene made up of larger-than-life ceramic statues made in the village of Castelli in the Abruzzo region of Italy, at St. Peters Square in the Vatican. (Photo by Vincenzo Pinto/AFP via Getty Images.)

Known for its ceramics tradition, Castelli lies in Italy’s Abruzzi region. In fact, the five colors known as the “Castelli Palette” predominate in the ceramic nativity.

The St. Peter’s Diocese website helpfully points out art historical precedents for the figures’ strangely proportioned features, including Mesopotamian sculpture. It also mentions precedents as diverse as Renaissance art, the neo-baroque, and the work of self-taught artists.

While the ceramic figures have created a sensation in this year’s Vatican display, this is not the first time they have been seen publicly.The sculptures have even been on tour, going on view in Rome on Christmas in 1970 and later doing several gigs in the Middle East, in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and even Bethlehem, Jesus’s birthplace.

Why in the world is there an astronaut there?

Four years into the Castelli school’s work on the sculpture set, astronauts first walked on the moon, in 1969. In honor of that accomplishment, the sculptors put in their Italian Neil Armstrong.

Many have pointed out that previous Vatican displays have also included seemingly incongruous elements.

For instance, in 2016, a Maltese fishing boat appeared in the display in reference to the plight of refugees(just as America’s wall-building president was about to take office).

2017’s realist display from the town of Montevergine featured figures performing acts of mercy, like feeding the destitute, visiting the incarcerated, and clothing the naked. That display, too, generated controversy, when the depiction of “clothing the naked” was considered to be so sexy as to be potential gay propaganda,with Catholic Family News blasting it as “obscene.”

What do critics have to say about the Space Nativity?

The National Catholic Register complains of a “satanic-looking executioner—but no manger.” (Artist Fausto Cheg, a member of the team that created the sculpture, has said that the executioner figure, in fact, refers to the abolition of the death penalty.  (Ya, whatever!)

Catholic Herald contributing editor Tim Stanley calls it “absolutely terrifying.”

A writer for the Catholic Heraldcalls the nativity “embarrassing,”but opines that perhaps its break with tradition can reach new audiences: “When the Church encounters a new culture of, say, an indigenous tribe, or a society quite foreign to European aesthetics and sensibilities,” he writes, “She will experiment with blending some of their native expressions with the Church’s patrimony as part of the work of evangelization. It is therefore fair that She also do this with modern Western culture.”   (So this is their “new EVANGELISM”?)

And who’s to say that’s wrong? Writer Matt Stansberry took to Twitter to quip that the nativity “by far the church’s best effort to bring me back into the fold.”  (I AM HERE TO SAY IT IS WRONG! AND I AM NOT ALONE!)

Has Pope Francis weighed in?

Yes and no.

In general, he is pro-anachronism. “It is customary to add many symbolic figures to our nativity scenes,” Pope Francis said in 2019. “Children—but adults too!—often love to add to the nativity scene other figures that have no apparent connection with the Gospel accounts. Yet, each in its own way, these fanciful additions show that in the new world inaugurated by Jesus there is room for whatever is truly human and for all God’s creatures.”  (Jesus did not inaugurate this NEW WORLD.  And we are not children.  It is ridiculous that this New World wants to force children to deal with adult issues they cannot handle, and wants adults to be children.)

Nativity scene of the Vatican Firefighters during the inauguration of the exhibition "100 Nativity Scenes” under Bernini's colonnade in St. Peter's Square, December 13th, 2020. (Photo by Grzegorz Galazka/Archivio Grzegorz Galazka/Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images.)

Nativity scene of the Vatican Firefighters during the inauguration of the exhibition “100 Nativity Scenes” under Bernini’s colonnade in St. Peter’s Square, December 13th, 2020. (Photo by Grzegorz Galazka/Archivio Grzegorz Galazka/Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images.)

On Sunday, however, the Pope pointedly did not recommend seeing the unconventional Nativity during an address. Speaking to visitors from his window overlooking Vatican Square, Francis instead twice exhorted them to visit a nearby exhibition of more than 100 nativity displays, which he said showed “how people try to use art to show how Jesus was born.”    (Well the Vatican cannot claim that they were caught off guard or surprised by this display, it has been well known since 1970. So cut the crap!)

No mention was made of poor Italian Neil Armstrong. Given the ongoing mocking of the Castelli ceramics display, the silence from the Pope has been widely interpreted as a deliberate snubBS!

Has anyone else taken to Twitter to weigh in?

Surprisingly, yes!








Dec 14, 2020