Christmas story: the story of the Bethlehem or Manger

Christmas story: the story of the Bethlehem or Manger

The Nativity Scene, also known as the Nativity Scene, is one of the best known and most used Christian symbols at Christmas, and even the most traditional ones, such as reading ‘Christmas Song’ by Charles Dickens. But, what is the story of the nativity scene?

History of the Bethlehem or Manger

The representation of the birth of Christ is a tradition of the Church that has more than eight centuries of history. It started with the Bethlehem of San Francisco de Asís in 1223, located in Greccio (Italy).

Saint Francis was devoted to the Nativity of Christ and on Christmas 1223, when he was in the hermitage of Greccio, he felt the need to reproduce the mystery of the birth, requesting the authorization of the Pope Honorius III.

Saint Bonaventure (Juan de Fidanza 1217 - 1274), an Italian theologian and Cardinal, is the one who narrated this event of Saint Francis of Assisi:

Three years before his death, he (Francis) wanted to celebrate in Greccio the memory of the birth of the Child Jesus, and he wanted to do it with every possible solemnity, in order to further increase the devotion of the faithful. So that the thing was not adjudged to novelty mania, he first requested and obtained the permission of the Supreme Pontiff.

In his narration, he tells that Saint Francis, assisted by Juan de Grecio, began the preparations for the Bethlehem 15 days before December 25Choosing an open place, they placed a white cloth, filled with hay, and brought a donkey, an ox, and other animals.

Nine days before December 25, summoned the people and celebrated a mass in the presence of the representation of the birth.

Francisco also celebrated Christmas Eve, which he staged in a cave near the castle of Greccio, this event being his most recognized act.

The inclusion of the ox and the donkey in the Bethlehem was due to a reading of Saint Francis in the book of Isaiah: «The ox knows its owner, and the donkey its master's manger. Israel does not know, my people do not discern»(Isaiah, 1, 3).

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