We went back to the sanctuary of Saint Frances, near Greccio, today with Connie and Bob. Generally, I don’t feel much in huge cathedrals and churches other than amazement at the amount of money that was spent. But in the 13th century part of this sanctuary, which consists of the original dormitory, choir and church with their ancient wooden floors, beams, etc, I got a real sense of the life these men led.
But, no sooner had we left that part of the sanctuary than we were plunged into the presepe (crèche, nativity scene) part of the sanctuary. The reason for the multiplicity of presepe here is that on Christmas eve of 1223 the man who would become Saint Francis held a reenactment of the nativity using living people. Thus, Greccio has become known as the location of the first nativity scene.
There are nativity scenes from all over the world and made out of all sorts of materials: Wood, ceramic, crystals, beads, television sets, crochet . . . Most were pretty hideous. Numero uno below is sort of typical ceramic. Numero due (big fake pearls and starched crochet) speaks for itself. Numero tre is my favorite; Mary looks like she is ready to flee . . . “What in the hell am I supposed to do with him now?”