World Nativity Traditions



Matthäa Wirz


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Exhibition Label

Have you seen a multi-purpose nativity before? It has a handle and is portable. It holds not only one but three scenes. The nativity scene is complemented by those of the Annunciation and the Crucifixion. It looks not only like an exotic fruit or flower, ripe in some parts and open, but also like a magic lantern. One cannot look at one image without being attracted by the others. The angel of the Annunciation appears to Mary in a cave, growing literally out of the wall. The cave is reminiscent of the nativity grotto where Mary rests in a reclined position holding the Child in the nook of her arm. In this set and in older nativity traditions, Joseph sits pondering in a distance. The nativity is the beginning of a long and arduous journey, ending at the top of many stairs, but leading through death into the light of the resurrected Christ and Sun of Justice. It is not without meaning that this magic lantern has a handle. The light of salvation needs to be carried wherever we go to brighten our path with its memories of promise (Annunciation) and fulfillment (Crucifixion and Resurrection). This is what Christmas stands for.


Terracotta nativity sculpted by Sr. Matthäa Wirz in Switzerland in 1986, depicting the nativity of Jesus. Exhibition label originally written by Fr. Johann G. Roten, S.M. for exhibit entitled "At The Manger" and held at Roesch Library, University of Dayton.


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crèches, nativity scenes, nativities, At the Manger, figurines, Jesus Christ, Switzerland

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