Nativities of Latin America
On exhibition: November 19, 2009 to January 31, 2010
The Knights of Columbus Museum, for the fifth consecutive year, is pleased to offer a Christmas exhibition of Nativity scenes or crèches. A long-held Christian tradition, the Nativity scene is an artistic representation of the birth of Jesus Christ. The practice of creating and displaying these Nativity scenes as a part of the annual Christmas observance has spread throughout the world and taken on many cultural distinctions, which is evident in this exhibition.
When Christopher Columbus first landed on a series of islands in the Caribbean in 1492, he believed that he had reached the East Indies in Asia.
As explorations continued, Europe realized that a whole new set of previously unknown continents had been discovered instead. Catholic Spain led the explorations and established colonies across vast territories. With the explorers, came the missionaries. They built missions and introduced the indigenous people to Christianity. From Spain and Portugal, religious colonists and missionaries brought crèches, or Nativity sets, for both devotion and teaching.
The natives adopted their own art forms and created many unique crèches. The Latin American crèche tradition flourishes today because of the intense faith of the artists. This is due, largely, to the widespread devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe, whose image was miraculously imprinted on a Mexican Indian’s tilma, or cloak, in 1531. The Virgin Mary’s image is on public display today in Mexico City, at the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the most visited shrine in the world.
Sixteen Latin countries (Argentina, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Columbia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Peru and Venezuela), four southwestern U.S. states (Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Texas) and Puerto Rico are represented in this exhibition. Mexico, Peru and New Mexico are famous for the volume and quality of their nacimientos (crèches).
A number of extraordinary works are on display, including some magnificent pieces from Mexico’s Formento Cultural Banamex collection and six private U.S. collections (Eileen Canty Collection, College of New Rochelle Collection, Father Charles Des Ruisseaux Collection, Father Timothy Goldrick Collection, James and Emilia Govan Collection, and Crèches International at The Marian Library/International Marian Research Institute Collection at the University of Dayton).