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: