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Monday, January 9, 2017

Nativity Times Two

The Nativity in the Lower Church at Assisi   (by Giotto)
Madonna and Cher are not the only celebrities to drop their surnames.  Back in the 1200s, the Italian artist Giotto di Bondone became simply known as  “Giotto.”

His 1313 fresco of the Nativity in Assisi appeared on Pope Francis’ 2016 Christmas card.  This is only fitting because Francis of Assisi is the pontiff’s namesake.

A close inspection of this fresco reveals something quite unusual:  There are two baby Jesuses.  Why is this so?  We are told that Giotto wished “to express the human and divine nature of Christ.”

Both babies are in swaddling clothes, symbolizing a “need to alleviate the suffering of others.”  These wraps “support the fragile body” of the incarnate Christ as an example of kindness toward all God’s children.

Francis of Assisi “founded the nativity scene tradition in 1223.”  “Bathed in tears and radiant with joy,” he stood before this first live replica, chanting the Holy Gospel to all who would listen. 


Copyright January 9, 2017 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

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