Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Artifact of the Week - St. Augustine Mission nativity scene

This week's featured artifact is a crèche (also known as a nativity scene) that originates from the St. Augustine Roman Catholic Mission. It was used yearly at the Mission as one of their Christmas decorations. 

A nativity scene is the depiction of the birth of Jesus as described in the gospels of Matthew and Luke. Nativity scenes are created worldwide at Christmas and are shown in such places as churches, schools, museums and shopping malls. This tradition dates back to 1223 when St. Francis of Assisi allegedly created the first nativity scene in a cave near Greccio, Italy. He created a live depiction of the Biblical story using humans and animals. 

St. Francis' scene was so popular that his idea was copied by many throughout the Catholic world. In fact, a mere 100 years later, all churches in Italy were expected to display a nativity scene at Christmas. By this time, statues and figurines had replaced live humans and animals and the scenes were far more intricate. 

By the 1800s, the tradition of depicting the birth of Jesus had spread past the Catholic world and was gaining popularity in the wider Christian community. The scenes were beginning to be marketed in various forms for public sale, and were made of wood, terracotta, paper, wax and ivory. 

In celebration of the Christmas season, the Museum has created a Christmas exhibit. We've put the nativity scene on display along with a decorated tree and a roaring fireplace complete with stockings and toys. 

Come by and visit us over the holidays. We are open until December 24th, and reopen again on December 27th. We will be closed on January 1st, 2014.  
Several figures from PRMA 77.822. 

No comments: