BETHLEHEM – To help people get into the spirit of Advent the sisters at the Abbey of Regina Laudis and the sisters at the Wisdom House Retreat Center have come together to present Preparing for Christmas: The History and Spirituality of the 18th Center Neapolitan Crèche.
The crèche was given to the abbey in 1949 and recently underwent a 3-year renovation project.
The joint presentation will be Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and will begin at Wisdom House, 229 E. Litchfield Road in Litchfield. Art and Spirituality Coordinator, Sister Jo-Ann Iannotti said the members of the abbey will discuss the history of the crèche and will talk about its restoration. The afternoon session will be held at the Abbey, 273 Flander Road in Bethlehem, where the superlative crèche will be viewed.
“It (the crèche) certainly is an art form that really catches the imagination of people across all cultures,” Iannotti said.
The crèche, housed in Bellamy Barn, has 68 figures between 14 and 16 inches high representing the nativity scene. The wooden, terra cotta, porcelain and jute figurines are dressed in their original 18th century costumes.
According to the Abbey website, it’s believed that the crèche once belonged to Victor Amadeus the Second, King of Sardinia and is said to have been presented to him on the occasion of his coronation in 1720. After his death in 1732, it became property of an Italian family of the nobility until it was brought to America in 1948.
Loretta Hines Howard gave the crèche to the Abbey in memory of her husband. Some years later Himes gifted a similar crèche to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.
Iannotti said the Abbey Crèche shows more than Mary, Joseph, Jesus, angels and the three wise men. The scene also shows the town folk and animals, which she said makes the artwork even more meaningful.
“You can look at the faces of the people as they are responding to this central event (the birth of Jesus),” she said. “It’s supposed to mirror back at you and make you ask ‘how am I responding?’”
She added that it’s something people can visit year-after-year and take away a new meaning each time.
“You can have a new response to it because you’re growing and you have a faith that’s growing at the same time,” Iannotti said.
The daylong presentation costs $40, or $65 for two people. For information call (860) 567-3163 of visit www.wisdomhouse.org/program/calendar.html.
Also on Saturday, in an unrelated event, The Regina Ludis Scola will give a rare performance of sacred music at the John Bale Book Company at 158 Grand St. in Waterbury. The performance will be at 2:30 p.m.
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