Miniature Nativities on Display
Saint James’ Episcopal Church in Arlington, Vt. is delighted to announce this year’s exhibition of Los Nacimientos, a display of more than 50 Nativity scenes reflecting art and culture around the world. The Nativities are made from papier maché, ceramic, straw, bamboo, stained glass and many other interesting materials. The exhibit is drawn from the private collection of a parishioner, Roger Cooper. “Nacimiento” is Spanish for “the birth place.” In Mexico, Cooper’s country of birth, a nacimiento takes precedence over the Christmas tree and becomes the centerpiece of the home during the Christmas season. As Cooper traveled the world for his work, this Christmas tradition stayed with him, and he began collecting Nativity scenes. He has more than 150 different examples of the genre.
Throughout the centuries, artists have created Nativity sets that reflect their own cultures and times. Scenes of the Nativity are known from the very earliest Christian times. They appear in 3rd and 4th century Christian catacombs of Rome as wall paintings and on sarcophagi. It was not until 1223, however, when St. Francis of Assisi organized a Nativity using live animals in Italy, that the understanding and appreciation of that special scene took root and grew. The custom of making Nativity scenes spread from Italy to France and to Spain, and then to other parts of the world, following the spread of Christianity. The custom arrived in the New World with the conquistadores and the friars in the 16th century.
Saint James’ Episcopal Church is grateful to Roger Cooper for sharing his beautiful and interesting collection with us and reminding us of the variety of artistic endeavor that celebrates the miracle of the birth of Jesus. Los Nacimientos can be viewed on Sundays in December before and after the 8 and 10 a.m. worship services; Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Christmas Eve before and after our 4 and 10 p.m. services; and Christmas Day, before and after our 10 a.m. service. A free printed guide to each of the display cases is available at the church. Everyone is cordially invited to visit and enjoy this delightful exhibition, and to participate in the services and programs offered by the Church. For information, call 802-375-9952; send an e-mail to [email protected] or visit stjamearlingtonvt.org.