Librería Editrice Vaticana

The manger as told by Pope Francis in a new book.

On the occasion of Christmas 2023, Pope Francis publishes a book in which he recounts some of his experiences with «the Manger». It talks about the tradition that dates back to St. Francis of Assisi and has remained a simple but profound symbol of Christian tradition throughout the world, «even in my own house,» the Pope comments.

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(ZENIT News / Rome, 12.13.2023).- A new book by the Pope makes us reflect on the importance of a Christian symbol with a very long tradition: the Manger of Bethlehem.

In «Il mio pesepre» («My Manger») the Pope offers us some reflections on this very popular symbol that has long made its place in Christian homes and that reflects the humility with which God made himself present among us, not as a great and powerful God, but as a poor, humble and defenseless child.

The publication coincides with the 8th centenary of the invention of this representation, since in 1223, in Greccio, Italy, St. Francis of Assisi created the first living nativity scene, as narrated in the book Life of St. Francis, written by St. Bonaventure. The famous Italian saint placed in a manger in front of the altar a baby accompanied by an ox and a donkey, thus being a symbol of what happened one thousand two hundred years earlier in Bethlehem.

The Pope points out that this is an element that should also serve today as a means of evangelization since it unveils the mystery of the coming of Christ becoming man like us in our concrete realities, as St. Paul says, without considering his divine condition, something that should be jealously guarded, but rather, annihilating himself, he became like one of us. The manger shows us God’s closeness to us.

Francis says in the book: «The manger is a handcrafted image of peace. That is why it is a living Gospel, because the manger reminds us that Jesus comes into our concrete life. And this is important. To make a small manger, at home, always, because it is the memory of God who came among us, was born among us, accompanies us in life, is man like us, became man like us».

This book is a wonderful opportunity to recall the importance of the advent of Christ and to send us into the missionary impulse to which the Pope invites us, knowing that Christ has made himself present among us so that we may stop looking in different directions, and rather take him as the true model of the perfect man, since he shared the human condition in everything except sin.

«Let the manger be the occasion to invite Jesus into our lives. When we make the Manger at home, it is as if we open the door and say: «Jesus, come in!», it makes concrete this closeness, this invitation to Jesus to come into our life. Because if He dwells in our life, life is reborn. And if life is reborn, then it is truly Christmas».


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Dante Alba, LC

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