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Saint Francis of Assisi and the First Nativity Scene
Saint Francis of Assisi and the First Nativity Scene
Saint Francis of Assisi and the First Nativity Scene
 
 
 

 
 

Details cycle of frescos dedicated to the Life of Saint Francis of Assisi by Niccolo Circignani (1517/1524 - after 1596); Royal Spanish Academy in Rome. Cloister.
commons.wikimedia.org
 
 
Saint Francis of Assisi, the Christmas Manger
Fragments from the book Vita Prima by Thomas of Celano

The supreme aspiration of Francis, his most fervent desire and his highest purpose was to observe in all things and at all times the Holy Gospel and to follow the doctrine of our Lord Jesus Christ in all steps with the utmost attention, with all care, with all the yearning of his mind, with all the fervor of his heart. In asiduous meditation he remembered His words and with a most sharp consideration he reviewed His works. He had so present, in his memory, the humility of the Incarnation and the charity of His Passion that it was difficult for him to think about anything else.

Worthy of remembrance and celebration with pious memory, Francis did so before his glorious death, near Greccio, on the day of the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ. In that place lived a certain man by the name of John, of good reputation and an even better life, whom blessed Francis loved with a singular love, for in the place where he lived he held a noble and honorable position in as much as he despised the nobility of his blood and aspired to the nobility of spirit.

Blessed Francis sent for this man, as he often did, about fifteen days before the birth of the Lord, and he said to him: "If you want us to celebrate this festivity of the Lord at Greccio, go with haste there and promptly prepare what I am going to tell you. I wish to celebrate the memory of the Child who was born in Bethlehem and I want to contemplate, in some way, with my own eyes, what he suffered in his discapacity as a child, how he was reclined on the manger and later was placed on hay between the ox and the donkey. Upon hearing this, the good and loyal man, ran in haste and prepared the place that the Lord had indicated.

The day arrives, a day of joy and exultation. Brothers were called from their various places. Men and women of that neighborhood, overflowing with joy, prepared, according to their means, candles and torches to light up that night that, with its sparkling star, lit up all the days and years.

At last, the Saint of God arrived and, seeing that all things were properly placed, he contemplated them and was overjoyed. The manger is prepared, the hay is brought in, and the ox and ass are led in. There simplicity receives honor, poverty is exalted, humility is valued, and Greccio is converted into a new Bethlehem.

The night is resplandecent like the day; a pleasant night for both men and animals. The people come and, before the new mystery, they savor new delights. The forest resounds with voices and the rocks respond to the hymns of joy. The brothers sing the praises of the Lord and the whole night passes with songs of happiness. The Saint of God is standing before the manger, overflowing with sighs, filled with overwhelming piety, melting in ineffable bliss. The solemn rite of the Mass is celebrated over the manger and the priest enjoys a most singular consolation.

The Saint of God is clothed with the vestments of the deacon, for he was one, and with a most sonorous voice he sings the Holy Gospel. His strong and sweet voice, his voice clear and with good timbre, invites all to the supreme rewards. Later he preaches to the people attending, and as much as when he speaks of the nativity of the poor King as well as the small village of Bethlehem, he expresses words that are felt as honey. Many times, when wanting to mention Christ Jesus, aflame with love, he calls Him "Child of Bethlehem" and pronounces it as "Bethleem", like a sheep that is bleating, and his mouth is full of a resounding voice; and even more so of a most tender affection. When he would call Him "Child of Bethlehem" or "Jesus" he spoke as if he was tasting and savoring with his palate the very sweetness of these words.

The gifts of the Almighty are multiplied there; a virtuous man has an admirable vision. There was a child that, studiously absorbed, was reclined over the manger; the saint of God approaches and awakes him from what was like a deep somnolence. This vision does not lack sense, since the Child Jesus, buried by the forgetfulness of the hearts of many, resucitated by His grace, through his servant Francis; and his image remained imprinted in those hearts in love. Having ended the solemn vigil, all returned to their homes filled with abundant happiness.

The hay placed in the manger is preserved so that, just like the Lord multipled his Holy mercy, through Him donkeys and other animals would be cured. And this is what happened: many animals from the surrounding region that suffered diverse illnesses, by eating this hay, were cured. Moreoever, women with long and painful labors, gave birth happily once a little of this hay was placed over them. And the same happened with persons of both sexes: with that hay, they obtained their cure from diverse afflictions.

The place of the manger was later consecrated in the temple of the Lord: in honor of the most blessed father Francis, over the manger was built an altar and a Church was dedicated so that, where in another time the animals fed from the fodder of hay, there men would continuously eat, for the health of their souls and body, the flesh of the Immaculate and uncontaminated Lamb, Jesus Christ, Our Lord, who gave Himself to us with the highest and ineffable love, and Who lives and reigns with the Father and the Holy Spirit and is God, eternally glorious, for ever and ever. Amen. Alleluja, Alleluja.

(Here ends the first book about the life and acts of Blessed Saint Francis.)


Translated from the Spanish version of the work Vita Prima by Thomas of Celano; Franciscan Province of the Holy Evangelium of Mexico - franciscanosenmexico.com.mx

 
Saint Francis of Assisi, the Christmas Manger
Fragments from the book Vita Prima by Thomas of Celano

The supreme aspiration of Francis, his most fervent desire and his highest purpose was to observe in all things and at all times the Holy Gospel and to follow the doctrine of our Lord Jesus Christ in all steps with the utmost attention, with all care, with all the yearning of his mind, with all the fervor of his heart. In asiduous meditation he remembered His words and with a most sharp consideration he reviewed His works. He had so present, in his memory, the humility of the Incarnation and the charity of His Passion that it was difficult for him to think about anything else.

Worthy of remembrance and celebration with pious memory, Francis did so before his glorious death, near Greccio, on the day of the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ. In that place lived a certain man by the name of John, of good reputation and an even better life, whom blessed Francis loved with a singular love, for in the place where he lived he held a noble and honorable position in as much as he despised the nobility of his blood and aspired to the nobility of spirit.

Blessed Francis sent for this man, as he often did, about fifteen days before the birth of the Lord, and he said to him: "If you want us to celebrate this festivity of the Lord at Greccio, go with haste there and promptly prepare what I am going to tell you. I wish to celebrate the memory of the Child who was born in Bethlehem and I want to contemplate, in some way, with my own eyes, what he suffered in his discapacity as a child, how he was reclined on the manger and later was placed on hay between the ox and the donkey. Upon hearing this, the good and loyal man, ran in haste and prepared the place that the Lord had indicated.

The day arrives, a day of joy and exultation. Brothers were called from their various places. Men and women of that neighborhood, overflowing with joy, prepared, according to their means, candles and torches to light up that night that, with its sparkling star, lit up all the days and years.

At last, the Saint of God arrived and, seeing that all things were properly placed, he contemplated them and was overjoyed. The manger is prepared, the hay is brought in, and the ox and ass are led in. There simplicity receives honor, poverty is exalted, humility is valued, and Greccio is converted into a new Bethlehem.

The night is resplandecent like the day; a pleasant night for both men and animals. The people come and, before the new mystery, they savor new delights. The forest resounds with voices and the rocks respond to the hymns of joy. The brothers sing the praises of the Lord and the whole night passes with songs of happiness. The Saint of God is standing before the manger, overflowing with sighs, filled with overwhelming piety, melting in ineffable bliss. The solemn rite of the Mass is celebrated over the manger and the priest enjoys a most singular consolation.

The Saint of God is clothed with the vestments of the deacon, for he was one, and with a most sonorous voice he sings the Holy Gospel. His strong and sweet voice, his voice clear and with good timbre, invites all to the supreme rewards. Later he preaches to the people attending, and as much as when he speaks of the nativity of the poor King as well as the small village of Bethlehem, he expresses words that are felt as honey. Many times, when wanting to mention Christ Jesus, aflame with love, he calls Him "Child of Bethlehem" and pronounces it as "Bethleem", like a sheep that is bleating, and his mouth is full of a resounding voice; and even more so of a most tender affection. When he would call Him "Child of Bethlehem" or "Jesus" he spoke as if he was tasting and savoring with his palate the very sweetness of these words.

The gifts of the Almighty are multiplied there; a virtuous man has an admirable vision. There was a child that, studiously absorbed, was reclined over the manger; the saint of God approaches and awakes him from what was like a deep somnolence. This vision does not lack sense, since the Child Jesus, buried by the forgetfulness of the hearts of many, resucitated by His grace, through his servant Francis; and his image remained imprinted in those hearts in love. Having ended the solemn vigil, all returned to their homes filled with abundant happiness.

The hay placed in the manger is preserved so that, just like the Lord multipled his Holy mercy, through Him donkeys and other animals would be cured. And this is what happened: many animals from the surrounding region that suffered diverse illnesses, by eating this hay, were cured. Moreoever, women with long and painful labors, gave birth happily once a little of this hay was placed over them. And the same happened with persons of both sexes: with that hay, they obtained their cure from diverse afflictions.

The place of the manger was later consecrated in the temple of the Lord: in honor of the most blessed father Francis, over the manger was built an altar and a Church was dedicated so that, where in another time the animals fed from the fodder of hay, there men would continuously eat, for the health of their souls and body, the flesh of the Immaculate and uncontaminated Lamb, Jesus Christ, Our Lord, who gave Himself to us with the highest and ineffable love, and Who lives and reigns with the Father and the Holy Spirit and is God, eternally glorious, for ever and ever. Amen. Alleluja, Alleluja.

(Here ends the first book about the life and acts of Blessed Saint Francis.)


Translated from the Spanish version of the work Vita Prima by Thomas of Celano; Franciscan Province of the Holy Evangelium of Mexico - franciscanosenmexico.com.mx


 
 
 

 
 

The Chapel of the Nativity Scene, which was dug into the rock. The heart of the Sanctuary is the small Chapel of the Nativity built in the grotto that according to local tradition is where Francis arranged the Nativity of Christ. A rock under the altar indicates the place where Christ’s image was placed in the manger. Above the altar a 15th century fresco depicts the Nativity. The Virgin Mary is depicted in the intimate gesture of breastfeeding the Child in the presence of Saint Joseph. On the left there is a scene representing Francis’ gift of the Nativity to Greccio. It shows Francis wearing the dalmatic of a deacon kneeling in front of the infant Jesus. Behind him the people of Greccio witness the miracle.
www.becomemore.net
 
 
 
 
 
 


Exhibition of miniature nativity scenes, winter 2004-05 - commons.wikimedia.org


Exhibition of miniature nativity scenes, winter 2004-05 - commons.wikimedia.org  
 
 
Prayer to Bless the Family Manger

Oh God, Celestial Holy Father,
who has loved mankind so much,
that you sent them Your
Only-begotten Son,
born from You before all ages.

Deign to bless this Manger,
that will be the joy
of this Christian family.
May these images of the mystery
of the Incarnation
sustain the faith of its parents
and grownups,
reawaken the hope of the children
and increase love, in all.

We ask you all this through Jesus,
Your most beloved Son,
Who has saved us with His death
and Resurrection,
and who incessantly pleads for us
before You. Amen.
Prayer to Bless the Family Manger

Oh God, Celestial Holy Father,
who has loved mankind so much,
that you sent them Your
Only-begotten Son,
born from You before all ages.

Deign to bless this Manger,
that will be the joy
of this Christian family.
May these images of the mystery
of the Incarnation
sustain the faith of its parents
and grownups,
reawaken the hope of the children
and increase love, in all.

We ask you all this through Jesus,
Your most beloved Son,
Who has saved us with His death
and Resurrection,
and who incessantly pleads for us
before You. Amen.
 
 
 
 
Saint Francis of Assisi and the First Nativity Scene


 
 

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top
X
OUR FATHER

Our Father, Who Art In Heaven
Hallowed Be Thy Name.
Thy Kingdom come,
Thy Will be done
On earth as it is in Heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread
And forgive us our trespasses
As we forgive those who trespass against us.
Liberate us from all temptation[*]
And deliver us from all evil. Amen



[*] Liberate us is in keeping with the original Latin text.
       God usually does not "lead us" to temptation
       (unless we are tested),
       but gives us the grace to overcome and/or resist it
X
HAIL MARY

Hail Mary, full of grace
The Lord is with thee.
Blessed art though among women,
And blessed is the fruit
Of thy womb, Jesus.
 
Holy Mary, Mary of God
Pray for us sinners
Now, and in the hour
Of our death. Amen


 
X
APOSTLE'S CREED

I believe in God, the Father Almighty Creator of Heaven and earth;
And in Jesus Christ, His Only Son, our Lord;
Who was conceived by the
[work and grace of the] Holy Ghost,[*]
Born of the Virgin Mary,
Suffered under Pontius Pilate,
Was crucified, died and was buried.
He descended into the Dead.[**]
On the third day, He rose again;
He ascended into Heaven,
And sits at the right hand of God,
the Father Almighty.
From thence he shall come to judge
the living and the dead.
 
I believe in the Holy Ghost,[*]
The Holy Catholic Church,
The communion of saints,
The forgiveness of sins.
The resurrection of the body,
And life everlasting. Amen


[*] Holy Ghost: may be substituted with the current Holy Spirit.
[**] the Dead: "inferi", the underworld or the dead in Latin.
X
GLORIA

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son,
and to the Holy Ghost[*],
as it was in the beginning, is now,
and ever shall be, world without end.
Amen

[*] Holy Ghost: may be substituted with the current Holy Spirit.
X
DE PROFUNDIS

Out of the depths I have cried to Thee, O Lord:
Lord, hear my voice.
Let Thine ears be attentive
to the voice of my supplication.

If thou, O Lord, wilt mark iniquities:
Lord, who shall abide it.
For with Thee there is merciful forgiveness:
and because of Thy law,
I have waited for Thee, O Lord.

My soul hath waited on His word:
my soul hath hoped in the Lord.
From the morning-watch even until night,
let Israel hope in the Lord.

For with the Lord there is mercy:
and with Him plenteous redemption.
And He shall redeem Israel
from all her iniquities.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son,
and to the Holy Ghost[*],
as it was in the beginning, is now,
and ever shall be, world without end.
Amen

[*] Holy Ghost: may be substituted with the current Holy Spirit.
X
DE PROFUNDIS

Out of the depths I have cried to Thee, O Lord:
Lord, hear my voice.
Let Thine ears be attentive to the voice
of my supplication.

If thou, O Lord, wilt mark iniquities:
Lord, who shall abide it.
For with Thee there is merciful forgiveness:
and because of Thy law,
I have waited for Thee, O Lord.

My soul hath waited on His word:
my soul hath hoped in the Lord.
From the morning-watch even until night,
let Israel hope in the Lord.

For with the Lord there is mercy:
and with Him plenteous redemption.
And He shall redeem Israel
from all his iniquities.

V. Eternal rest give unto them, O Lord.
R. And let perpetual light shine upon them.
V. From the gate of hell.
R. Deliver their souls, O Lord.
V. May then rest in peace.
R. Amen.
V. O Lord, hear my prayer.
R. And let my cry come unto Thee.
V. The Lord be with you.
R. And with Thy Spirit.

(50 days indulgence to all who pray the De Profundis with V. and R.
"Requiem aeternam" (Eternal Rest) three times a day.
Pope Leo XIII, February 3, 1888)


Let us pray:
O God, the Creator and Redeemer of all
the faithful, we beseech Thee to grant
to the souls of Thy servants the remission
of their sins, so that by our prayers
they may obtain pardon for which they long.
O Lord, who lives and reigns,
world without end. Amen

May they rest in peace. Amen

CERRAR
SIGUIENTE
PADRE NUESTRO

Padre Nuestro,
que estas en los Cielos
Santificado sea Tu Nombre;
Venga a nosotros tu Reino;
Hágase Tu Voluntad
en la tierra como en el cielo.
Danos hoy nuestro pan de cada día;
Perdona nuestras ofensas,
Como también nosotros
perdonamos a los que nos ofenden,
No nos dejes caer en la tentación,
y líbranos del mal. Amén
 
CERRAR
SIGUIENTE
AVE MARÍA

Dios te salve, María,
llena eres de gracia;
El Señor es Contigo;
Bendita Tú eres
entre todas las mujeres,
Y bendito es el fruto
De tu vientre, Jesús.
 
Santa María,
Madre de Dios,
Ruega por nosotros
pecadores,
Ahora y en la hora
De nuestra muerte.
Amén
 
CERRAR
CREDO

Creo en Dios, Padre Todopoderoso,
Creador del cielo y de la tierra.
Creo en Jesucristo,
Su único Hijo, Nuestro Señor,
Que fue concebido por obra
y gracia del Espíritu Santo,
Nació de la Santa María Virgen;
Padeció bajo el poder de Poncio Pilato,
Fue crucificado, muerto y sepultado,
Descendió a los infiernos,
Al tercer día resucitó de entre los muertos,
Subió a los cielos
Y está sentado a la derecha de Dios,
Padre Todopoderoso.
Desde allí ha de venir a juzgar
a los vivos y a los muertos.

Creo en el Espíritu Santo,
La Santa Iglesia Católica,
La comunión de los santos,
El perdón de los pecados,
La resurrección de la carne
Y la vida eterna. Amén
 
 
CERRAR
DE PROFUNDIS

Desde lo hondo a Ti grito, Señor; Señor,
escucha mi voz;
Estén Tus oidos atentos
a la voz de mi súplica.

Si llevas cuenta de los delitos, Señor,
¿quién podrá resistir?
Pero de ti procede el perdón,
y así infundes respeto.
Mi alma espera en el Señor.

Espera en su palabra;
mi alma aguarda al Señor,
más que el centinela la aurora.
Aguarda Israel al Señor.

Como el centinela la aurora;
porque del Señor viene la misericordia.
la redención copiosa;
y Él redimirá a Israel de todos sus delitos.

Gloria al Padre, al Hijo y al
Espíritu Santo,
como es desde el principio,
es ahora y será por los siglos de los siglos.
Amén

X
GLORIA

Gloria al Padre, al Hijo y al
Espíritu Santo,
como es desde el principio,
es ahora y será por los siglos de los siglos.
Amén

CERRAR
DE PROFUNDIS

Desde lo hondo a Ti grito, Señor;
Señor, escucha mi voz;
Estén Tus oidos atentos a
la voz de mi súplica.

Si llevas cuenta de los delitos, Señor,
¿quién podrá resistir?

Pero de ti procede el perdón,
y así infundes respeto.
Mi alma espera en el Señor.

Espera en su palabra;
mi alma aguarda al Señor,
más que el centinela la aurora.
Aguarda Israel al Señor.

Como el centinela la aurora;
porque del Señor viene la misericordia,
la redención copiosa;
y Él redimirá a Israel de todos sus delitos.

V. Dadles, Señor, a todas las almas
el descanso eterno.
R. Y haced lucir sobre ellas
vuestra eterna luz.
V. Que en paz descansen.
R. Amén.