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Exhibit: Celebrating 800 Years of the Crèche

February 22 @ 10:00 am - 4:00 pm

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November 10, 2023 – March 24, 2024, Open Wednesday – Sunday from 10am to 4pm with free parking and admission except Thanksgiving (November 23) and Christmas Eve (December 24)

Eight hundred years ago, a 41-year-old friar from Italy, perhaps inspired by his travel to the Holy Land, decided to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ by doing something extra special. Receiving permission from Pope Honorius III, he staged a three-dimensional Nativity scene within a cave in the town of Greccio, 60 miles north of Rome, using live animals to fill the manger scene. That friar was St. Francis of Assisi, founder of the Order of Friars Minor (otherwise known as the Franciscans).

This simple depiction of Christ’s birth has evolved into an art form that has been explored for eight centuries. The crèche can now be found in Christian homes throughout the world. They often incorporate scenery and traditions from the culture of the maker, and they are created from materials native to the regions in which they are made. Despite the range of artistic forms they take, one theme remains universal: the biblical account of birth of the Christ Child. From his humble origins in Bethlehem to his crucifixion outside Jerusalem, the witness of Jesus Christ unites people across the world, inspiring them to seek a life of unity and peace despite geographic or cultural differences.

Featuring crèches from the Knights of Columbus Museum Inc. Collection, this exhibition honors the rich history of the Nativity scene as seen across the world, from small hand-carved figures made of wood to large-scale representations featuring over 150 figures and elaborate settings. Included in the exhibition are passages describing the moment in Greccio from Chapter 30 of Thomas de Celano’s 1229 work The Life of Saint Francis, the very first biography of the saint, as well as Chapter 10 of St. Bonaventure’s 1263 work The Life of St. Francis of Assisi.

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Blessed Michael McGivney Pilgrimage Center
1 State Street
New Haven, CT 06511 United States

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February 22
10:00 am - 4:00 pm
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Blessed Michael McGivney Pilgrimage Center
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