The Message Of Christmas Comes Alive With Living Cribs Or Nativity Scenes

Live Crib in St. Mel’s Cathedral, Longford, Ireland 2019. Photo by Lalin Swaris

The place that the shepherds found was not an academy or an abstract republic, it was not a place of myths allegorised or dissected or explained or explained away. It was a place of dreams come true. G.K. Chesterton

Christmas is built upon a beautiful and intentional paradox; that the birth of the homeless should be celebrated in every home. G.K. Chesterton

People worldwide put cribs in their homes at Christmas; but living cribs or live Nativity scenes are popular with religious and non-religious alike. Many families bring their children to see the simple but magical scene. They marvel at the live animals, the living, breathing people who bring the Christmas story to life, and the props and artistic backdrops that create something special for a short time. The preparation of these endeavours brings communities together and people of all ages and backgrounds can participate.

Live Crib in St. Mel’s Cathedral, Longford, Ireland 2019. Photo by Lalin Swaris


‘In 1221, St. Francis had a novel idea. To celebrate the birth of Jesus, Francis wanted to recreate the experience of the first Christmas. He did this not with statues inside a church, but with animals in a humble hilltop grove.

Francis’ inspiration came after traveling to the Holy Land and seeing the exact site of Christ’s birth. The poverty of it all deeply impacted Francis and was a particular element that he wanted to celebrate on Christmas.

Franciscan friar Thomas of Celano narrates the rest of the story.

[A]bout 15 days before the Nativity of the Lord, [Francis] said to [a friend in Greccio], “… For I would make memorial of that Child who was born in Bethlehem, and in some sort behold with bodily eyes His infant hardships; how He lay in a manger on the hay, with the ox and the ass standing by.”There Simplicity was honored, Poverty exalted, Humility commended; and of Greccio there was made as it were a new Bethlehem. The night was lit up as the day, and was delightful to men and beasts … [Francis] stood before the manger, full of sighs, overcome with tenderness and filled with wondrous joy. The solemnities of Mass were celebrated over the manger, and the priest enjoyed a new consolation.
Live Crib in St. Mel’s Cathedral, Longford, Ireland 2019. Photo by Lalin Swaris

Longford Live Crib

The annual live crib in St. Mel’s Cathedral in Longford has become a tradition that all enjoy. It brings joy to many and helps spread the feeling of love and peace and hope at this precious time of year. Unfortunately due to Covid 19 it wasn’t on this year but we hope that this time next year it will reappear for all to visit.

Live Crib in St. Mel’s Cathedral, Longford, Ireland 2019. Photo by Lalin Swaris

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