O Holy Night
New in 2023 ... This year we will be featuring the Historic Cathedral Nativity Scene from St. Mary's Cathedral in Peoria
We are very grateful to Most Reverend Bishop Louis Tylka for loaning this magnificent nativity scene to be displayed at the Community Festival of Nativities for the second year. Created by Sebastian Osterrieder in 1930, this 50-piece nativity was obtained by Bishop Joseph Schlarman of the Catholic Diocese of Peoria when he traveled to Munich in 1931. This nativity scene has been displayed at St. Mary’s Cathedral every year since then.
We are thrilled to have this very beautiful creation on display at the festival this year.
Celebrating the 800th anniversary
of the first Creche Exhibit
by St. Francis of Assisi
In 1223, inspired by a visit to Bethlehem and deeply moved by images of the birth of Jesus Christ in a lowly manger, Friar Francis called on his friend, Lord of Greccio, Giovanni Velita, to find a way to demonstrate the humble circumstances of the Savior’s birth. Said he, “I want to do something that will recall the memory of that Child who was born in Bethlehem, to see with bodily eyes the inconveniences of his infancy, how he lay in the manger, and how the ox and ass stood by.” Biographer Thomas of Celano described the scene: “Word spread that something new was going to take place. People came from all over the valley and beyond. A thousand torches illuminated the darkness in a long procession over the fresh snow on the road from Rieti to Greccio. When Francis finally arrived, his heart was elated as he rejoiced at the crowds. When he looked upon the manger and the animals, his heart melted, and he was overjoyed. Bethlehem was in Greccio! In the stable, Francis could touch and caress the Christ child. In everything there was solemnity, beauty, and joy.” This first nativity scene has been memorialized by artisans using every variety of media throughout the ages. In each one we find the expression of the artist’s love for the Babe born in Bethlehem, the Savior of the World, the Lord Jesus Christ.
-Taken from an excerpt on stfrancispilgrimages.com
We are pleased to display the handwork of Pekin artisan, Vic McDonald. Well known in the Central Illinois Woodworker’s Club, Vic has made beautiful nativity scenes out of various kinds of wood. For his hand painted ceramic sets, he has created lighted stables. He is also pleased to display a hand-carved Olive wood nativity that he carried on his lap on the trip home from the Holy Land.
We are happy to share the international nativity collection of Father Ronald Margherio from St. Bede Academy in Peru, Illinois. Many of his precious scenes were obtained on his travels and many were gifts from dear friends.
We are glad to display the private collection of Rachel Hermann this year. A founding member of St. Vincent de Paul Church, Rachel Hermann is a local nativity collector. “It all started in Cancun, Mexico in 1988,” she says, “when I saw a beautiful brass nativity and I decided I would start a collection. A year later I found the perfect glass stable to match the brass nativity at the hotel gift shop! After that my family and friends who knew of my interest started to give me nativities as presents and my collection grew.
Diana Lage's Fontanini Collection will be back again to delight everyone. Her display of over 3,000 pieces will include scenes that focus on the women of the gospels in addition to the nativity and life of Jesus Christ.