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Odd Vatican Nativity Display Draws Sharp Criticism
The nativity crib in St. Peter's Square. Vatican City (Vatican), December 14th, 2020
Rocco Spaziani/Archivio Rocco Spaziani/Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images

This year’s Nativity display in the Vatican’s St. Peter’s Square has drawn sharp criticism for its unconventional features, which range from the bizarre to the hideous.

“St. Peter’s Square in the Vatican has hosted a few unorthodox nativity scenes over the years, but this season’s entry looks like it came from outer space,” reports Reuters. “The futuristic ceramic crèche – which includes an astronaut and a character reminiscent of Darth Vader from Star Wars – has received so many terrible reviews that, if it were a Broadway play, it probably would have closed on opening night.”

Here are just a few photos:

The display was erected by teachers and students from the Italian town of Castelli, which is known for its ceramics. It is meant to have a contemporary look echoing Summerian, Greek, and Egyptian art. At the scene’s unveiling, Pope Francis gave a rather traditional message about the Nativity in contrast with its modernist design.

“The feast of the Nativity reminds us that Jesus is our peace, our joy, our strength, our comfort,” he said, as reported by CNN. “But, to receive these gifts of grace, it is necessary to feel small, poor and humble like the figures in the Nativity.”

According to descriptions, the astronaut “represents the lunar landings of the late 1960s and early 1970s.”

Catholics on social media were quick to voice their disapproval.

“The Vatican Nativity is worse than advertised. Is that Baby Yoda emerging from the Fisher-Price space man figurine?” tweeted Raymond Arroyo. 

“Why does statue of Mary in the Vatican‘s nativity set so ugly. It looks like something a toddler would make if he had access to concrete, sheets of copper and pasta,” tweeted Ave Christus Rex. 

“This is this year’s Vatican nativity scene and it needs to be destroyed. I’m not even kidding. A few men with sledgehammers should do the trick. We have to stop passively putting up with these insults to the faith and Catholic sensibilities,” tweeted Lina O. 

“This monstrosity is the Vatican’s nativity scene. Nothing like ugly robot space aliens to undermine the beauty & humanity of the Holy Family at Christmas time, during a pandemic when we need our timeless Church traditions more than ever. Thanks, Pope Francis!” tweeted Rachel Campos-Duffy. 

“What kind of unholy, grotesque abomination is this? It looks like an Egyptian astronaut and space aliens. This is a blatant mockery of the birth of Jesus that which is beautiful and meaningful,” tweeted one user.

“Freaky, ugly, demonic looking nativity scene at the Vatican. Opposite of truth, goodness, and beauty,” tweeted another.

Vatican locals were equally upset with the display, Alfredo Chiarelli, a merchant who has been selling religious items in St. Peter’s Square for decades, told Reuters, “With this global pandemic and everything else the Christian people, or anyone for that matter, was expecting a sign of rebirth.”

“It has confused and saddened a lot of people” he added.

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