Monday, January 14, 2013

Marbella Cathedral Nativity

Inside the Iglesia de Nuestra Senora de la Encarnacion (or the Church of Our Lady of the Incarnation) a large nativity set presents most of the major events in Jesus's infancy from His conception to His family's flight into Egypt.

The setting took up the better half of the north aisle of the church and, since we arrived 15 minutes early for Mass, became the center of attention for the children as we waited.

Front side of the scene

Back side of the scene

According to the artist, the angel's visit to Mary to announce that she would be the mother of Jesus happened during regular house work in the kitchen. It's a nice homey touch. Typically, the event is depicted as she is reading or praying in a private room.


The story moves to Bethlehem, where the holy couple cannot find room at any of the inns.

The innkeeper hides his shameful face behind a tree

Further on, the holy family receives the three wise men/kings/magi in their humble setting.


Finally, the holy family returns to Nazareth, where they present Jesus at the temple according to the Jewish custom.

Nazareth square

Presentation at the temple

From here, the display shows their flight into Egypt, complete with the classic Egyptian icons--tombs and hieroglyphics.

Arriving in Egypt (leaving the windmills of Nazareth behind!)

The set includes lots of homey details of life, including people trading goods and the shepherds roasting a lamb while they were out tending their sheep! Naturally the kids were drawn to the silliest, earthiest bit.

Caganer, who apparently makes an appearance often in these displays

The wikipedia article about this fellow and his importance in the tradition has this funny story:
In 2005, the Barcelona city council provoked a public outcry by commissioning a nativity scene which did not include a Caganer. Many saw this as an attack on Catalan traditions. The local government countered these criticisms by claiming that the Caganer was not included because a recent by-law had made public defecation and urination illegal, meaning that the Caganer was now setting a bad example.[13] Following a campaign against this decision called Salvem el caganer (Save the caganer), and widespread media criticism, the 2006 nativity restored the Caganer, who appeared on the northern side of the nativity near a dry riverbed.

After viewing the whole tableau, J whispered to us that this was "precious and beautiful," which made us both very happy.

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