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No traditional nativity scene in Vatican this Christmas

December 16, 2007 18:40 IST

The traditional nativity scene built each Christmas in front of St Peter's Basilica has shown Jesus being born in a stable in Bethlehem for 25 years. But, this year, the Vatican will do away with the manger.

The Vatican has decided to abandon the traditional stable and the straw-ladden setting, shifting it to Nazareth, and placing Jesus in his father Joseph's carpentry shop in a bid to reflect the more straightforward scenario as described by St Matthew.

'It is time for a change and a return to St Matthew's gospel,' The Daily Telegraph quoted a spokesman of the State Department of the Vatican, which organises and builds the nativity scene, as saying.

In fact, in place of the sheep and hay, there will be a model of three rooms. Jesus will lie in Joseph's shop, complete with 'the typical work tools of a carpenter.' On one side, the shop will be flanked with a 'covered patio,' on the other there will be the 'inside of a pub, with its hearth.'

The new setting was inspired by two verses in St Matthew's gospel, Chapter 1:24 and 1:25, the Vatican said, which states: 'When Joseph woke up, he did as the Angel of God ordered and took Mary into his house. Without them knowing each other, a child was born and he called his name Jesus.'

'But, a decision has been made to place the scene in Nazareth regardless,' the spokesperson said.

The traditional depiction of Jesus in a manger comes from St Luke's gospel, which said there was 'no room at the inn.' But it is Matthew's gospel which forms the basis for the Angelus prayer, and the view of Jesus in a carpenter's workshop matches the Franciscan tradition.

The nativity scene at St Peter's was started by Pope John Paul II in 1982.
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