The Tradition of the Christmas
We look to St. Francis of Assisi
for the inspiration of adoring the Christmas creche. This gentle man, in search
of illuminating the sanctity of Christ's birth, built a model of where the baby
Savior first rested his head: the Christmas crib or creche.
Disciples of St. Francis recall
a Midnight Mass that the holy man celebrated in 1223 in Greccio, Italy, as being
filled with great emotion. During this service, a vision of the newborn Christ
child appeared to come to life, smiling and moving in His crib.
That moment remains alive today
in the hearts of Christians around the world, and the Nativity has since emerged
as the blessed symbol of the Christmas season.
What is a Creche?
The word "creche" comes from the
French meaning "manger" or "crib", and commonly refers to the scene
of Christ's birth.
The Christmas creche, with its traditional depiction of the birth of Jesus with
angels, three kings, shepherds, and animals, is more popular than ever.
The first definition of a creche,
written in 1619, said that a creche is "to bring to life the events of the birth
of Christ so that all who view the scene may personally share the wonder of
those who originally saw it." It is a "visual sermon" intended to motivate us to
read the scriptural accounts of Christ's birth and meditate on their meaning for
Without faith and prayer, a
creche is simply a beautiful work of art--a decoration. When a creche moves us
to prayer, it can deepen the gift of faith from God by helping us reflect on
some of Christianity's most fundamental truths. We hope that our creche will
affect you in this way.
The Pittsburgh Creche
Located at the U.S Steel Plaza
in downtown Pittsburgh, the Pittsburgh Creche is the world's only authorized
replica of the creche that stands in front of Saint Peter's Basilica in Rome.
First erected in 1999 through
the work of the Christian Leaders Fellowship, the creche appears again through
generous gifts from Pittsburgh labor unions, businesses, religious
organizations, and other community members.
The creche features
larger-than-life-size renderings of the Holy Family, the Magi, an angel,
shepherds, animals, and a stable, along with a professional sound and lighting
The stable design is taken
directly from Vatican blueprints. Pietro Simonelli, sculptor of the original
Vatican creche, created the initial figures for the Pittsburgh display and the
new figures added in 2000 and 2001.
In 2002, local artists from JE
Scenic Technologies, in affiliation with the Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera,
assumed this intricate task. Like Simonelli, they will create figures with
lifelike hands, feet, and faces. Each sculpture is made from weatherproofed
paper-mache and placed on a wooden frame.
As we seek to find peace in our
world, this spectacular outdoor nativity scene is a powerful reminder of the
true meaning and purpose of Christmas.
Share the Love
Art assists us in understanding sacred
scripture, though it does not replace it. Allow this symbol of God's love for us
to spark generosity and peace in your own heart.
Consider giving to those less
fortunate, remember the poor, the lonely, and the sick, and find ways to share
the love you witness through this creche with your neighbors here and around the
The Pittsburgh Creche Project is made
possible through the ongoing generosity and contributions of many organizations
Your contribution of support for this
project would be most welcome and appreciated. Tax-deductible gifts may be made
to the Diocese of Pittsburgh on behalf of the Christian Leaders Fellowship.
Please designate "Creche Project" on
your check and send to:
Diocese of Pittsburgh
111 Boulevard of the Allies
Pittsburgh, PA 15222
Source: Brochure called "THE PITTSBURGH
Share the Love
U.S. STEEL PLAZA
THE CHRISTIAN LEADERS FELLOWSHIP
EXPRESS YOUR VIEW