100 nativity scenes from all over Rome, Italy and the world are on display under the Colonnade of St. Peter’s Square
Perhaps more than any other holiday, Christmas has a great deal of iconography that you cannot escape when the season rolls around. You can’t miss the lights, the trees, the wreathes, the Santas, the cookies, the presents, the candy canes, the gingerbread man, and of course, the nativity scenes. Just as every Christmas tree is different, so is every nativity scene. You can find them in houses, you can find them in yards. Some are made for mouses, others as big as cars. In fact, there is a beautiful, large one right in Saint Peter’s Square. And if you happen to be in the neighborhood, you absolutely cannot miss the 100 Presepi (or 100 Cribs) display, found right along Via della Conciliazione. This year, in full compliance with the anti-covid measures, the display will take place under the Colonnade of St. Peter’s Square.
Starting from December 13th, you’ll be able to admire 100 nativity scenes on display. Even if you are not a religious person, you will not want to miss this. There are nativity scenes from all over Rome, all over Italy, and all over the world displayed. From Hungary to Germany to Mexico to Japan, the entire world seems to be represented in the exhibition.
In fact, the depictions of the nativity even change setting. While some may take place in the Middle East, others take place in rural Italy. Several even take place in Rome of the 1800s. One in particular even takes place in near-modern-day Croatia. One scene doesn’t even depict the nativity itself, but rather a Medieval nativity reenactment.
Some scenes are constructed by children, others by craftsmen. Some are kitschy, others could be displayed in an art museum. Some scenes are hyper-realistic, others are abstract. Some are near life size, others could fit in your wallet. Some are two dimensional, but most are 3D.
You will find nativities in all manner of materials including vinyl records, styrofoam, wood, seashells, candles, pasta, and more. Some are whimsical and fun. Some are extremely elaborate and create entire worlds. You will be shocked at how large some of these displays appear, and how many details their creators have included. Some even have moving parts including bells, running water, and animatronics.
Truly a sight to be seen and not one to be skipped if you’re in Rome for the holiday season, the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization’s 100 Presepi display is a wonderful way to welcome in the Christmas spirit. If you already happen to be taking a trip to Vatican City or St. Peter’s Square, it makes a delightful accompaniment.