The Nativity scene in St. Peter's Square this year isn't at all traditional. In fact, it's elicited surprise from some of its visitors.
“It looks a bit...”
“I would have preferred a more traditional Nativity scene. This one seems a bit cold. With the virus situation, where we can't hug each other, perhaps a traditional Nativity scene would have helped face this situation and have a better Christmas.”
However, there are some people who appreciate the occasional change in style.
“To me, the Nativity scene seems very modern. It's a bit strange, but I like it.”
“It's a rather odd Nativity scene. It's quite different from the style we're used to, but looking at it closely, it has its own beauty.”
Some people like that it includes elements related to current events, like this astronaut.
“There's one from outer space. When you first look at it, you might wonder, 'What does that have to do with anything?' Then you understand the underlying message, which is that Jesus reaches every part of the universe.”
The statue of the astronaut wasn't placed there randomly.
The Nativity scene's pieces are over 50 years old. They were made in the 60s and 70s, coinciding with the arrival of man on the moon.
Their creators were students at an art school in Teramo, Italy, and they wanted to include relevant themes, as a reminder that Jesus was born for people of all eras.
Every year, the Vatican Nativity scene is accompanied by the history of its place of origin. The town of Teramo is known for its ceramics. It's a difficult material to mold, which is the reason for the statues' odd shapes.
It must be a source of pride to have this Nativity scene on display in St. Peter's Square, especially for a community that was especially affected by two earthquakes, one in 2009 and the other in 2017.