Pope Francis visits the Place of the First Nativity ScenePosted on 12th December 2019

Vatican City
Pope Francis recently made a brief visit to the Italian town of Greccio where he signed his Apostolic Letter Admirabile signum on importance of the Crib in our celebration of Christmas.

St Francis created the Nativity scene in Greccio in 1223, saying, “I want to do something that will recall the memory of that Child who was born in Bethlehem, to see with bodily eyes the inconveniences of his infancy, how he lay in the manger, and how the ox and ass stood by."

St Bonaventure (1221 - 1274), theologian and Francis’ follower and biographer, described the occasion:

It happened in the third year before his death, that in order to excite the inhabitants of Greccio to commemorate the nativity of the Infant Jesus with great devotion, he determined to keep it with all possible solemnity; and lest he should be accused of lightness or novelty, he asked and obtained the permission of the sovereign Pontiff. Then he 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."

During his own brief trip to Greccio, Pope Francis paused to pray at the site where St Francis created the first nativity scene. Frescoes from the 14th century adorn the cave’s walls, depicting Mary breastfeeding the Christ Child and St Francis kneeling in adoration. There the Pope signed his Apostolic Letter Admirabile signum, a reflection on the meaning of the nativity scene.

Simplicity of silence and prayer

Pope Francis then addressed the people gathered at the Shrine:“How many thoughts crowd the mind in this holy place!” But, he noted, the rocks where Saint Francis found inspiration for the first manger scene are an invitation to “rediscover simplicity.”

“There is no need for many words here, because the scene before our eyes expresses the wisdom we need in order to grasp what is essential,” he said.

The crib reminds us to find moments of silence and prayer in the midst of our hectic lives.

“Silence, to contemplate the beauty of the face of the Child Jesus, the Son of God born in the poverty of a stable,” he said. “Prayer, to express our amazed ‘thank you’ at this immense gift of love we have been given.”

Pope Francis called the nativity scene a “simple and enchanting image” that manifests the great mystery of our faith:“God loves us to the point of sharing our humanity and our lives. He never leaves us alone.”

Let us be like the shepherds of Bethlehem, said the Pope, and accept the invitation to “go to the cave, to see and recognize the sign that God has given us. This will fill our hearts with joy and allow us to take that joy wherever there is sadness. May His smile that lights up the night, dispel indifference, and open hearts to the joy of those who feel loved by our Heavenly Father.”

(Source:Vatican News)

Follow, Like, Share

Check out our Social media

Stay up to date

Sign up for our newsletter for all the latest news, deals, and exclusive offers

Sign Up