Buon Natale: Crèches of Italy

The Knights of Columbus Museum’s 10th annual Christmas crèche exhibition, Buon Natale: Crèches of Italy, features two dozen Italian inspired Nativity scenes on display. The highlight of the show is a 120-square-foot Neapolitan diorama.

Crèches have been a popular part of Western Christianity for more than 800 years. Introduced in Italy by St. Francis of Assisi, they served as a way for everyday people to reflect on Jesus’ modest birth. Through the centuries, crèches have developed into large and ornate displays in communities as well as humble presentations for homes.

Perhaps the most recognizable and popular style is the Neapolitan crèche. These Nativity scenes placed the Holy Family not in the stable setting of Bethlehem but in the heart of 16th-century Naples. These elegant and elaborate scenes feature the Child Jesus in the midst not only of adoring cherubs and shepherds, but also among ladies and gentlemen of nobility, merchants, musicians and various commoners; literally among the active daily life of the community.

Buon Natale: Crèches of Italy is on view from Dec. 1, 2014 until Feb. 1, 2015.

The Knights of Columbus Museum extends gratitude to the following lenders: Bottega D’Arte Presepiale Cantone & Costabile, Naples; the Marian Library at the University of Dayton; Antonio Caruso; Karen Loccisano and R. Michael Palan.

The museum’s 14th annual Christmas Tree Festival, featuring 24 trees decorated with handmade ornaments and trim by Connecticut schoolchildren, opens with a celebration Dec. 6, 2014. A Christmastime Family Day is scheduled for Dec. 28, 2014 and a wood carving demonstration by lending artist Antonio Caruso is planned for Jan. 10, 2015.