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The Deacon's Bench

…I’d fit right in at the Vatican’s nativity scene.

A couple weeks ago, I posted an item about the nativity scene going up in St. Peter’s Square, and noted that it would be very different, because it would be set not in a stable or a cave, but in Joseph’s carpentry workshop in Nazareth.

I did some Googling and found the pictures of the scene below. Enjoy.


UPDATE: An observant reader notes that the Vatican announced that the scene is, in fact, in Bethlehem, not Nazareth. According to CNS:

The scene, unveiled in an early evening ceremony Dec. 24, was the revision of an earlier description by the Vatican which had planned to place the birth of Christ in Joseph’s house in Nazareth.

The Vatican office in charge of the creche’s construction originally had taken its inspiration from an account in Matthew’s Gospel: “When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home. He had no relations with her until she bore a son and he named him Jesus.”

The central scene had been designed to be Joseph’s dwelling and his carpentry workshop, according to a Dec. 13 written statement by the office for technical services for Vatican City.

But the idea of depicting Jesus’ birth in Joseph’s home in Nazareth had caused a stir in much of the press.

After its official unveiling less than two weeks later, the central scene depicted a large, bare room with crumbling plaster, a rickety staircase leading to a small balcony inside a broken-down building with a missing column and a cracked archway.

The Vatican’s written description next to the Nativity scene in the square says: “The scene for this year’s Nativity recalls the painting style of the Flemish School of the 1500s.”

According to the new text, the scene’s inspiration no longer comes from Chapter 1, Verses 24-25, of the Gospel of Matthew, but from Chapter 1, Verse 23, and Chapter 2, Verse 1, which say, respectively, “‘Behold the Virgin shall be with child and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,’ which means ‘God is with us'” and “When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of King Herod ….”

The Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, confirmed in its Dec. 24-25 edition that the St. Peter’s Square Nativity scene was “set in Bethlehem.”

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