All the Nativity scenes within the Vatican

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This year's holiday season in the Vatican has perhaps the most spectacular display of mangers yet. Pope Francis reminded Christians everywhere to keep this Christmas tradition alive in his new papal document, which seemed to be a welcome challenge for people in Rome. 

The annual display in St. Peter's Square differs vastly from last year's scene, which was made from sand. This year, the Nativity scene depicts an early 1900s town from the Italian alps. It features typical peasants and children from the town of Scurelle, wearing clothing donated from townspeople. 

The wood from the scene is also unique. It's gathered from a storm in 2018 that destroyed almost 50,000 acres of forest in Northern Italy.

This is a shift from last year when the manger was based off a Dolomite tradition and sculpted in sand to represent mankind's fragility.

However, the crib scenes don't stop here. There's also this representation with Venetian references in Paul VI Audience Hall, where Pope Francis holds most of his meetings. 

The exhibit in Paul VI Audience Hall was created by volunteers of “Gruppo Presepio Artistico Parè di Conegliano,” who carved the almost four-foot-tall figures by hand. 

Near the Vatican in St. Paul's Basilica is the Maltese representation of the Nativity. It displays Malta's capital city, Valletta, where baby Jesus is depicted in a house that was destroyed by bombs of World War II. It also shows traditional Maltese figures, such as sellers, shepherds and musicians.

The pope also visited an exhibit with almost 130 representations of the manger, made with different materials. This is called the “100 Nativity Scenes in the Vatican.”

To continue the Nativity's joy, Pope Francis will carry a statue of baby Jesus inside St. Peter's Basilica Christmas Eve Mass. There, he will place baby Jesus in the crib and complete the basilica's Nativity scene.

“The Nativity scene is a simple and wonderful sign of our faith that we must not lose. It's so beautiful that parents pass it on to children and grandparents pass it down to grandchildren. It's a genuine method of spreading the Gospel in a world that seems afraid to remember the true meaning of Christmas.”

Whether the scene made from wood, sand, or recycled materials, the Nativity has the power to bring joy, traditions, and memories of what's important this time of year.

Rachel Dobrzynski

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