A Philippine-inspired Nativity scene, depicting the birth of Jesus Christ in the manger, was featured among others in the ‘100 cribs’ exhibition held under the left colonnade of St. Peter’s Square in the Vatican.
Br. Christoffer Denzell Aquino’s piece, titled “Pamilyang Pinagpala,” is crafted from materials sourced in Naples “but given the Filipino treatment”.
The scene, according to the young seminarian of the Congregation of the Sons of Holy Mary Immaculate, portrays the Holy Family as a typical Filipino family in a rural setting.
Aquino said the main focus of his work “is St. Joseph, (who) serenades her beloved ‘Mag-ina’ with the guitar after a day’s work. “The family celebrates the gift of life in the person of the child Jesus,” he said.
The work also depicts angels in the heavens celebrating, while the opening notations of “Missa de Angelis” Gloria are flashed in the banner above the celestial choir.
“I tried my best to inculturate and translate the concept and the dynamics of the famed Presepe Napoletano into Filipino,” said Aquino, who is studying at the Pontifical Urban University in Rome.
“It is practically a celebration on heaven and earth for the humble coming of the almighty Emmanuel, God who chose to be like us so that we may become like Him,” he said.
Aquino’s work represents the Philippine Embassy to the Holy See in the “100 Nativity Scenes in the Vatican,” a cultural initiative by the Dicastery for Evangelization for the “Jubilee is Culture” series, in preparation for the Jubilee 2025.
This is not the first time an entry from the Philippines has been featured in the 100 Presepi exhibit. In 2013, the embassy showcased artist Albert Dancel’s work when the event was still held at Piazza del Popolo.
For the sixth year, the exhibition was inaugurated on Dec. 8 and will remain open to the public until January 7, 2024.
The exhibit unites the works of various artists from at least 22 countries, each portraying different interpretations of the scene of Jesus’ birth.
This year’s edition also celebrates the 800th anniversary of the Greccio Crib, the first depiction of the Nativity, which St. Francis created at Christmas in 1223.