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2020 Vatican nativity scene meets universal ridicule and scorn

‘So the Vatican presepe has been unveiled....turns out 2020 could get worse,’ art historian Elizabeth Lev tweeted.
Fri Dec 11, 2020 - 3:01 pm EST
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2020 Vatican nativity scene Vatican Media / Screenshot

VATICAN CITY, December 11, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — The Vatican nativity scene, unveiled during an evening ceremony today in St. Peter’s Square, has been roundly ridiculed and scorned as a modernist insult to the Incarnation and the Holy Family.

“This year, more than ever, the staging of the traditional space dedicated to Christmas in St. Peter’s Square is meant to be a sign of hope and trust for the whole world,” a Vatican statement about the scene had promised earlier.

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The Virgin Mary (Vatican Media screenshot)
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Three Wise Men (Vatican Media screenshot)

“It expresses the certainty that Jesus comes among his people to save and console them,” continued the Vatican statement, “an important message in this difficult time due to the COVID-19 health emergency.”

Despite the Vatican’s promise, the figures — all of which are contemporary ceramic interpretations of the normally familiar figures featured in the portrayal of the birth of Christ in a Bethlehem stable two thousand years ago — are virtually unrecognizable.

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An Angel towers over all (Vatican Media screenshot)

In the lead up to today’s official unveiling, leaked photos of the ceramic nativity figures invited statements of disbelief and disgust.

“So the Vatican presepe has been unveiled....turns out 2020 could get worse,” tweeted art historian Elizabeth Lev.

“It has nothing uplifting or transcendent about it. After a year of ugliness, the least they could have done was offer some beauty,” continued Lev in a subsequent Tweet. “This is shapeless, unappealing and unworthy of the joy we are trying [to] muster after this difficult year.”

“And to think a few hundred yards away are Michelangelo masterpieces. What do you think he would say if he saw these?” wondered Larry Fitzpatrick.

“Better than the homoerotic one from a few years ago,” wrote Joseph Sciambra, a chaste same-sex attracted man and Church commentator, referring to the Vatican’s 2017 nativity scene which was “sexually suggestive” and was praised by an LGBT activst group as an “important symbol of inclusion.” That scene included a naked man and a corpse.

“No joke: This is the modernist Nativity scene they just installed in the occupied Vatican,” noted Fide Post, an independent Catholic media site. “Crazy how they manage to surpass themselves each year.”

Comparisons with toddlers’ toys, aliens, deep sea divers, and even fireplugs have been endless.

“A sneak peek at the Vatican Nativity. Official unveiling tomorrow. Looks like some car parts, kid toys, and an astronaut,” wrote The Catholic Traveler yesterday.

“Spaceman,” he observed, adding, “Spark plug angel and a kidnapped Baby Jesus.”

“This year’s Vatican nativity scene is apparently based on Fisher-Price Little People, but they forgot the angry ginger kid,” said William Mahoney, PhD. “You’re welcome.”

“I’m not Christian, and even I’M offended,” one Twitter user chimed in.

Popular Catholic commentator Taylor Marshall issued a one word declaration: “Disgusting.”

“I wonder how heavy those things are, and how hard it would be to toss them into the Tiber,” tweeted another user, suggesting that the figures deserve the same fate as the Pachamama statues during last year’s Amazon Synod.

And one observer is already looking forward to next year’s Vatican nativity display. “Auditions start for the 2021 Vatican Nativity Scene,” chortled Eccles on Twitter, showing a scene from an old science fiction movie.

According to a Vatican Press release, the nativity set was created over the course of several years during the 1960s until the 1970s by teachers and alumni of an art institute in the Abruzzo region.


  modern art, nativity scene, pope francis, vatican

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