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The Beginning of Nativity Scene

Updated: Feb 27, 2023

St. Francis of Assisi had a special devotion to the Child Jesus, and he created the first nativity scene on Christmas Eve of the year 1223 in Greccio, Italy. It is believed that St. Francis was first inspired to recreate the scene after visiting the historical place of Christ's birth in Bethlehem.


St. Francis' recreation of that first Christmas night was so popular that soon every church in Italy had its own nativity scene. The devotion also spread to private homes, and in modern times even to secular institutions, so much so that it's now impossible to imagine Christmas without a nativity scene to behold.



Hopefully this story of the first nativity scene will inspire you to see your nativity set as much more than just as a pretty Christmas decoration. It is a historic Catholic tradition and a tool for meditation on the humility, simplicity, and poverty of Christ that he took on, from the moment of his Incarnation, out of his boundless love for his lost sheep.


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