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The following Nativities are each displayed in a unique permanent setting created by Marian Library Crèche Collection volunteers. The descriptive text for each was written by Father Johann Roten, S.M.

nativity set

From the Orient
Ausa (Garagos)

The crèche culture is of Western origin. It has not spread widely to the region where Christ was born. Palestine created the well-known olive wood sets, but has also the even more exquisite nativities with figures clothed in fabric. Christian arts and crafts of Upper Egypt give us beautifully fashioned ceramic figures, tall and slim, with characteristic features of the region and mostly bearded faces. Their message lies not in many details but in the posture of the body, the gesture of the hands and the position of the head. The whole scene is a symphony of reverence, silent adoration and sightless vision (the eyes of all the figures being closed). Broken upon arrival from Egypt, most of the figures had to be mended. There lies some symbolism even in this: Over time the story of Christ's birth has been broken and mended many times. Sometimes it was the sender who lacked attention, sometimes it was the recipient who became careless.

– ML.0111.20

nativity set

With Mandolin and Tambourine
Coptic Christian Art Studio

The Eastern icon has roots in Coptic art. Hailed as a link between Pharaonic, Greco-Roman, and Islamic art, Coptic art seeks beauty in simplicity. What is meant is both the simplicity of idea and form. The idea centers on what is essential. Form lends color and body to make the essential present and visible. But what is essential? It is the age-old celebration of God’s revelation in Incarnation and Redemption. Here lies the challenge of Coptic art and all Eastern iconography: to make visible in humble and simple form the beauty of divine presence and beauty. Its program consists of maximum meaning in minimal form. The abstract design of this nativity set created by turning each piece of wood on a lathe is reminiscent in some way of the very spirit of Coptic art.

– ML.4069


Marian Library

Roesch Library
300 College Park
Dayton, Ohio 45469 - 1390