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Rome Reports

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St. Paul's Basilica in Rome displays spectacular Nativity scene created in Malta

Malta visits Rome in this unique Nativity scene. St. Andrew's Band Club exhibits the “Malta fil-Presepju” crib scene at St. Paul Outside the Walls, combining Malta's identity with the birth of Jesus Christ.

This Maltese exhibit highlights the artistic Nativity scene that shows Malta's capital city, Valletta; a “city built by gentlemen for gentlemen.” It demonstrates how the living, working, and administrative capital of the islands celebrated Jesus.

St. Andrew's Band, Malta
“The main nativity scene is a representation of painting that is situated in our village, we have an altar that represents Nativity. And effectively the nativity scene is a true copy of the picture that is that was painted by an old Maltese painter, Giuseppe Cali.”

The rest of the village represents scenes from Malta's history. In the back is the replica of Auberge de Castille, next to the church of Our Lady of Victory. Among other buildings are the opera house and houses demolished during World War II. One of the destroyed houses provides the birthplace for baby Jesus.

At the front is the Grandmaster of the city, Jean de La Valette, Pius V and the engineer of the city, Francesco Laparelli da Cortona. Each of these figures played a vital role in developing the city. Other figures are seen wearing traditional Maltese costumes and taking traditional roles, such as sellers, shepherds, and musicians.

Maltese Ambassador to the Holy See
“The whole scene, one can see our capital city from the time it's being built, because one can say that it could be seen as a pontifical city because St. Pius V helped the grandmaster level it, to build it.”

The display is in the basilica dedicated to St. Paul, who is the patron saint of Malta. It provides the deep history Malta shares with Rome and the Church, as well as sparks joy that the Nativity brings this time of year.

Rachel Dobrzynski