Tuesday, December 21, 2010


I don't know how many people know this but the Christmas crib is a Franciscan invention. The first was built by St. Francis in the little town of Greccio on the side of a hill in the Rieti valley. Spending Christmas there in retreat Francis wanted to recreat the circumstances of the Saviour's birth so as to meditate on them. While Mass was being offered, at which Francis was deacon, the statue of the child came alive and all were deeply touched and consoled by the grace of God. From these humble beginings springs our practise of having a crib in our churches and homes. Something which must delight the little poor man of Assisi.

Below is the cave where the crib was built with the later fresco painted in commemoration of the event.

St. Francis kneels before the Christ Child:

The Virgin breast feeds the Christ with St. Joseph in contemplation in the corner:

1 comment:

shane said...

Merry Christmas, Father.

[lionel johnson]

The golden stars give warmthless fire,
As weary Mary goes through night :
Her feet are torn by stone and briar ;
She hath no rest, no strength, no light :
O Mary, weary in the snow,
Remember Ireland’s woe !

O Joseph, sad for Mary’s sake !
Look on our earthly Mother too :
Let not the heart of Ireland break
With agony, the ages through :
For Mary’s love, love also thou
Ireland, and save her now !

Harsh were the folk, and bitter stern,
At Bethlehem, that night of nights.
For you no cheering hearth shall burn :
We have no room here, you no rights.
O Mary and Joseph ! hath not she,
Ireland, been even as ye ?

The ancient David’s royal house
Was thine, Saint Joseph ! wherefore she,
Mary, thine Ever Virgin Spouse,
To thine own city went with thee.
Behold ! thy citizens disown
The heir of David’s throne !

Nay, more ! The Very King of kings
Was with you, coming to his own :
They thrust Him forth to lowliest things ;
The poor meek beasts of toil alone
Stood by, when came to piteous birth
The God of all the earth.

And she, our Mother Ireland, knows
Insult, and infamies of wrong :
Her innocent children clad with woes,
Her weakness trampled by the strong :
And still upon her Holy Land
Her pitiless foeman stand.

From Manger unto Cross and Crown
Went Christ: and Mother Mary passed
Through Seven Sorrows, and sat down
Upon the Angel Throne at last.
Thence, Mary ! to thine own Child pray,
For Ireland’s hope this day !

She wanders amid winter still.
The dew of tears is on her face :
Her wounded heart takes yet its fill
Of desolation and disgrace.
God still is God ! And through God she
Foreknows her joy to be.

The snows shall perish at the spring,
The flowers pour fragrance round her feet :
Ah, Jesus ! Mary ! Joseph ! bring
This mercy from the Mercy Seat !
Send it, sweet King of Glory, born
Humbly on Christmas Morn !


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