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All About Mary

Portugal

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 from Portugal

The Accident
Manuel F. Cunha

Admire the flowing robes of Mary and Joseph, the immaculateness of their garb, the noble compunction of Joseph's posture and wringing hands. The holy group is set against a backdrop of classy Bordeaux red which further heightens the solemnity of the scene. Does it, really? There is a feature in this set, so utterly unexpected and incongruous, it makes you wince and chuckle. Lofty sentiments and spiritual exaltation come tumbling down as the inquisitive eye discovers the accident. Shocking? Not so for the mother. With practiced hands and a smile on her lips, she remedies the situation. Soon the baby will be dry and comfortable again. Incarnation and swaddling clothes are inseparable. And if the sublime does leave no room for a hearty laugh, it will indeed come tumbling down fast and furious.

– ML.1124.08

Nativity from Portugal

Order and Symmetry
P. Ramalho

The typical Estremoz nativity attributed to José Maria de Sa Lemos (~1920) is built like an altar or shrine. It is a miniature version of the large staircase altars or thrones erected on festivals of popular saints. The three-tiered altar allows for a limited number of figures, ordinarily nine altogether. Following a traditional order, the kings are at the top, the Holy Family is in the middle, and the shepherds are on the lowest level. The golden rule is order and symmetry; only color and costumes are left to the imagination.

– ML.2511

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