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Merry Christmas to All From the Loretto Community: The Story of the Christmas Crèche

Posted on December 20, 2021, by Loretto Community

A manger scene is on display, surrounded by small evergreens sparkling with white lights
The Loretto Motherhouse is home to a number of Nativity scenes, including this beautiful display. Many of the Motherhouse crèches were collected by Loretto Sister Anthony Mary Sartorius.

Is your crib set up? Years of religious imagination have created Christmas crèches that tell the story of that holy night.  Stories and images frame our traditions giving us a visual of how Jesus came to us in poverty. God became human. What a night! O holy night.

Blessing of the Christmas Crib:

Let us pray to Mary, Joseph and the Child. Let us pray to the angels, shepherds and travelers from the East. All of these crib figures represent real people who have come to bless our home and heart. We thank you, O God, for you come to live among us and give us signs this Christmas of your love. We bless this crib and all that it means for our home, may we discover that the space being prepared for Jesus’ birth already dwells among us. Amen

The formation of the first Christmas crib is attributed to St. Francis of Assisi. In 1223, just three years before his death, Francis went to visit the Franciscan friars living in the remote mountain village of Greccio, Italy. St. Bonaventure tells us that to excite the people of Greccio to celebrate the birth of the Savior with all solemnity, Francis brought together all the elements of the stable in Bethlehem into what would become the very first Christmas crib.

Francis used real people, straw and animals to bring the Christmas story to life for the people of Greccio. People came from far and wide to see this spectacle. The night was aglow with candlelight as hymns were sung in praise of the God who is with us.

Francis was very real and very practical. He understood that as human beings we often need to see, hear and even smell something before it can enlighten our minds and ignite our hearts. As Francis carefully brought the characters of the Christmas scene together, he also skillfully brought the people of Greccio together; uniting them in prayer and praise around a living and breathing expression of God’s connection with the human story. The crib remains a beacon of peace, hope and reconciliation and offers an opportunity for us to reflect upon the deeper message it represents.

During this last week of Advent leading us into the celebration of Christ’s birth for all, the Loretto Community — Sisters, Co-members, Staff and Loretto Volunteers  — wish you the joy and peace of this holy season. Jesus is our light and model for how we live. His coming shows He loves us beyond anything we can understand. We pray that Jesus will transform our lives and give us the peace we so need and desire.

Merry Christmas from the Loretto Community!

2021 Christmas Card of the Loretto Community
Loretto Community

Loretto Community

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Cupola Cross 2-Icon

Loretto welcomes you

Learn more or plan a visit to the Motherhouse!