- Julio M. Shiling
The Story Saint Francis and First Nativity Scene.
The Nativity scene, the recreation in the imagery of the birth of the Infant Jesus, is a staple of Christian tradition around Christmastime. This idea and custom can be attributed to St. Francis of Assisi, one of the most influential figures of Christianity, especially the Catholic Church. With a world principally illiterate for most of history, Catholicism has stressed the importance of utilizing the arts to facilitate the understanding of religious doctrine, observance, and praxis.
St. Francis has transformed the Church and many of its policies in ways unknown to a great number of people. The mystic from Assisi, for example, broadened the message of humility after his experience in San Damiano Church where, while praying before the Byzantine Crucifix, Jesus addressed him saying “Francis, go and repair my church.” The need for “repairs” was not for the physical conditions of the cited church and monastery in Assisi, but of the Church itself.
Already deep-rooted in his transformative mystic mission, St. Francis traveled to Rome in 1223, to seek permission from Pope Honorius III to celebrate Christmas in a new manner. The idea was to make something “for the kindling of devotion” in the celebration of the birth of Christ, as St. Bonaventure told us in Life of St. Francis (1263). The 13th-century theologian, philosopher, and author, himself a member of the mendicant order of the Franciscans which St. Francis founded in 1209, has been insightful in relating the connection between the Nativity and the great saint from Assisi. Other authoritative works that concur with St. Bonaventure’s documentation include Father Cuthbert’s Life of St. Francis of Assisi (1912).Continue Reading …The Story Saint Francis and First Nativity Scene