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Vatican Museums: Come, let us worship #3

“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.

Marchigian School, Nativity and journey of the Magi, altar-step compartment, tempera and gilding on poplar, ca.1450, Vatican Art Gallery © Musei Vaticani

Several events are depicted in this scene: the preparation of a bath for the Christ Child, the Annunciation to the shepherds, and the Journey of the Magi. As in traditional nativity scenes, a young girl carries water in a jar, and an elderly lady holds a spindle. The tub for Jesus’ bath is in the form of a baptismal font. An angel announces the joyful news to shepherds, and shows the path to the Magi who are without crowns and who travel with their entourage from the three castles in the background. Legend holds that the three lived distant from one another and, guided by the star, met up only right before arriving at the place where the Child Jesus lay.

© Musei Vaticani
© Musei Vaticani

“Around Jesus’ crib the Angels sing peace. And those who believed the heavenly message and honored Him were filled with glory and joy. As it was then, so it will be throughout the ages. The story of Jesus is evergreen. Blessed is the one who understands and finds in Him grace, strength, and blessing.”

(Pope St. John XXIII – Christmas Homily, 1962)

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Under the direction of Paolo Ondarza

13 December 2020, 09:00