Nativity Video: Watch the Living Nativity Special


St. Francis of Assisi had a special devotion to the child, Jesus.

He is credited with creating the first Nativity Scene on Christmas Eve of the year 1223. St. Francis recreated the scene of Christ’s birth in a special ritual at a Mass he held inside a cave in Greccio, Italy.

He invited his fellow friars and town’s people to join in the celebration.

Later, he told a friend why he desired to create the first Nativity Scene in his town. “I want to do something that will recall the memory of the child who was born in Bethlehem. To see with bodily eyes the inconveniences of its infancy. How he lay in the manger and how the ox and the ass stood by.”

He set up an empty manger, and the feeding trough of the farm animals which served as Jesus’ crib, inside a cave. It even included a live ox and donkey beside the manger just as it was believed it happened on that first Christmas night. Through these visual aids, he wanted everyone to impress more deeply into their understanding how Christ came into the world in such poverty and simplicity.

This was a typical perspective of St. Francis. A unique charism of simple poverty centered spirituality. It is also said that St. Francis, who is radically devoted to the virtual evangelical poverty was inspired to recreate the original Nativity Scene to overcome the rapid greed of materialism prevalent in that time in Italy.

This is a prayer for your home manger:

God of every nation and every people from the beginning of creation, you made manifest your love when our need for a savior was great. You sent Your son to be born of the Virgin Mary. Through our lives, You bring us joy and peace, justice and mercy, and love. Lord, bless all who look upon this manger. May it remind us of the humble birth of Jesus and raise our thoughts to Him, who is God with us, and savior of all, and lives and reigns forever and ever.

Since the time I was a child, I loved the Nativity Scene. When I was a little boy, my favorite thing to do was set up the manger.

Mary and Jesus and the shepherds and all the wise men and the animals. I would put them under the tree and would look with great love and tenderness at the wonderful creation that God had done.

It is with great joy to bring this living Nativity here, too, just as St. Francis did. He wanted us to experience God for real. We celebrate this devotional the first manger scene was in that year that St. Francis brought about the Live Nativity. This year, as we have our Live Nativity at St. Gabriel’s Parish, we too are gathered with our wonderful shepherds.

Our Mary and Joseph, the Baby Jesus. We have all the animals here as well. The sheep and the ox. The ass, the lambs, the goats and the camel and here. It is with great joy and devotion that we celebrate this Nativity.

My hope is that everything I do with The Prodigal Father is to make God real to you. With all the praying that you do, hopefully God becomes real in your life as well. May the spirit of the Nativity be with you and be prepared for Christmas.

We hear from the Prophet Isaiah, “Comfort, give comfort to my people says the Lord.” God’s desire is to bring comfort to His people. The prophet uses the image of a lamb that Jesus will pick the lamb up into His arms and gather the lamb close to His bosom.

If you are going through a difficult time too, the Lord wants to bring you comfort. Often the symbol of that is Him picking you up into His arms and holding you close to His chest just as the Good Shepherd held the lambs close to his chest.

God, our Father, in the season of Advent desires to bring you comfort. If you are hurting, if you have been in any pain, if you are going through any difficulty, know right now that the Lord wants to comfort you and bring you close to His bosom, just as the Good Shepherd comforts his sheep.

If you would like to keep the Nativity alive in your heart, please consider donating to The Prodigal Father and you will receive The Holy Family prayer medal.

This prayer medal could be the perfect gift for someone special. Be held. Beloved. Believe.

About the Author Fr. Michael Denk

Fr. Michael was ordained into priesthood in the Diocese of Cleveland on May 12, 2007. He is dedicated to helping others encounter Christ through the celebration of the Eucharist, preaching, the Sacrament of Reconciliation, spiritual direction, and prayer.

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I'm Father Michael J. Denk, a priest of the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland. I am a contributor of content to The Prodigal Father Productions, Inc., a non-profit corporation functioning in accord with the traditions and the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. The corporation and I are separate, it doesn't speak for me, the parish, or on behalf of the Diocese of Cleveland, and I do not speak for it.