Art that comforts
Vatican News

Vatican Museums: Come, let us worship #1

“The depiction of Jesus’ birth is itself a simple and joyful proclamation of the mystery of the Incarnation of the Son of God.” These words of Pope Francis recall how the birth of Jesus has inspired generations of artists throughout history to evangelize through beauty. Every week the Vatican Museums and Vatican News offer a masterpiece from the pontifical collections, which are accompanied with a reflection from the Popes.

Workshop of Bartolo di Fredi, Adoration of the Shepherds, Tempera on poplar, gilding, 1383-1388, Vatican Museums, Art Gallery © Musei Vaticani

In this depiction of the Nativity, Mary appears larger than the other figures, to underline her role as the Mother of God. The Child Jesus lies wrapped in swaddling clothes in a manger shaped like a sepulcher, prefiguring His sacrificial death. A choir of angels, the star, and the dove – symbol of the Holy Spirit – represent God’s presence and involvement. The shepherds appear in the scenes of the Annunciation and the Adoration. The musical instruments and the flock of sheep recall ancient depictions of the countryside.

© Musei Vaticani
© Musei Vaticani

“With the shepherds, let us enter into the real Christmas, bringing to Jesus all that we are, our alienation, our unhealed wounds, our sins. Then, in Jesus, we will enjoy the taste of the true spirit of Christmas: the beauty of being loved by God. With Mary and Joseph, let us pause before the manger, before Jesus who is born as bread for my life. Contemplating his humble and infinite love, let us simply tell him: Thank you. Thank you because you have done all this for me.”

(Pope Francis – Christmas 2016 – Midnight Mass)

Under the direction of Paolo Ondarza
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29 November 2020, 09:00