The Deacon's Bench

The Deacon's Bench


If I had a hammer…

posted by deacon greg kandra

…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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liturgy

posted December 31, 2007 at 7:31 pm


Thanks for the photos. Great!!You are continuing the misinformation that the scene is set in Nazareth.See: http://www.liturgy.co.nz/worship/matters_files/christmasnazareth.htmlI would be happy to link our sites. Let me know.Blessings for 2008Boscowww.liturgy.co.nz



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Deacon Greg Kandra

posted December 31, 2007 at 7:41 pm


Thanks for the update. I fear the Vatican is itself responsible for the confusion, since it had announced earlier that it would take place in Nazareth. CNS reports: 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.” Blessings,Dcn. G.



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liturgy

posted December 31, 2007 at 9:38 pm


Greetings Deacon GregI remain unconvinced that the Vatican proposed the crib scene would be in Nazareth and so would be VERY interested in your verification of that!All I can see in your response is CNS getting confused in the same way as I highlighted in my article and you appear to accept their confusion.Matthew’s Gospel, as you will know, speaks not of a manger in a stable, but of a “house” (Mt 2:11) in Bethlehem. I am convinced that the Vatican was presenting THAT scene. And many people are surprisingly following the not-surprisingly ill-informed secular media in misinterpreting the Vatican’s concept.I look forward very much to your finding the Dec 13 Vatican original media release and highlighting that they intended it to be in Nazareth.BlessingsFr Boscowww.liturgy.co.nz



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Anonymous

posted January 1, 2008 at 2:32 am


Pope Benedict interpreted the scene in his Christams Homily. Anyone who has been to a European village knows well that animals are kept in areas beneath the living quarters so this is not that farfetched. As Benedict stated it is the scene of a broken down or crumbling palace, a symbol for the House of David which by the time Jesus appears is all but forgotten. Great pictures, thanks and Happy New Year!



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liturgy

posted January 1, 2008 at 3:27 am


That’s very helpful, Anonymous,I’ll try & hunt down the pope’s sermon – or a link might be provided here.It sounds parallel to my own reflection at:http://www.liturgy.co.nz/worship/matters_files/bethleheminn.html



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Anonymous

posted January 1, 2008 at 8:36 am


i do not know about all the mix up with press releases, but i would just keep it simple. since this is the year the church is reading the gospel of matthew, it would seem logical that they tried to make the creche reflect his nativity account where it says house?



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against the wind

posted January 1, 2008 at 8:56 am


Its interesting to see that Jesus, Mary and Joseph continue to be portrayed as being pretty Caucasian…. The fact that they were not is less of a question then where the birth occurred.If Jesus continues to be born in our hearts, homes and nations, I guess it really does not matter too much how those of us who were not there in the first place depict the scene.



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Deacon Greg Kandra

posted January 1, 2008 at 9:37 am


Here’s part of the original CNS report, which quotes the director of Vatican Technical Services: The central scene was designed to be Joseph’s dwelling and his carpentry workshop with angels hovering above from a small balcony, according to a Dec. 13 written statement by the office for technical services for Vatican City.The scene was to be flanked by another carpentry shop and an inn.Joseph lived and worked in Nazareth while “Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea” as Matthew’s account also confirms.Pier Carlo Cuscianna, director of technical services for Vatican City, told Catholic News Service Dec. 14 he was aware of the “polemic” circulating in the press over the Vatican depicting Jesus’ birth in Joseph’s home.He did not say whether the scene was to be in Nazareth or Bethlehem, but said, “I am certain Matthew reflected well on the meaning” of home in the Gospel verse on which the Vatican office based its design.



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liturgy

posted January 1, 2008 at 5:29 pm


Yes, Deacon Greg,you continue to quote a mistaken and confused CNS reporter – not direct quotes from Vatican officials, who, I continue to be convinced would never have it enter their heads to have a Christmas scene in Nazareth!Matthew’s story has a house and a presence of the Holy Family for up to two years (Matt 2:16). During this time once could easily have Matthew’s version having Joseph having a workshop in Bethlehem.The problem is we bring our pre-conceptions to the biblical text, rather than reading what each biblical author actually says.The pope’s sermon Anonymous quotes is at http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/homilies/2007/documents/hf_ben-xvi_hom_20071224_christmas_en.htmlYou will find the pope speaks freely about stables and Bethlehem.Not Nazareth.Blessings for 2008Fr Boscowww.liturgy.co.nz



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