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December 23, 2011     Post-Gazette
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December 23, 2011

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THE ITALIAN-AMERICAN VOICE OF MASSACHUSETTS TTE (Formerly LA GAZZETTA del MASSACHUSETTS) i VOL. 115 - NO. 51 BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS, DECEMBER 23, 2011 $.30 ACOPY Vita Sinopoli D+vi + News Briefs by Sal Giarratani Gingrich and Romney Top Guys The Republican Party has a problem this year with two top front runners, both damaged goods. President Obama has stunk big time since be- coming our president but the way the GOP is headed, he could get another four year lease at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue which would mean four more years of Vice President Joe Biden who everyday makes the legacy of Spiro T. Agnew look better all the time. I still think Chris Christie would have made a great GOP nominee and someone who could send Obama packing for Chicago, Hawaii, Cape Cod, Indonesia, wherever. With or without his birth certificate, OUCH! Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney? There's no clothes- pin big enough for me to vote for either of them. Meanwhile ... Ron Paul is talking about possibly running as a third party candidate in '12 if he loses the Republican nomination. This sounds like more snack, crackle and pop from Paul. That could only bring a smile to Obama's face. I loved it recently when his son, US Sen. Rand Paul, (R-KY) held a press conference to diss Gingrich. Rand's not exactly an objective observer of the GOP race, is he? Like we don't know who he's backing huh? Do the math, when you put Ron and Rand together, don't you get zero? More OUCHI (Continued on Page I0) Story of the Christmas Creche by Bennett Molinari and Richard Molinari Christmas is far and away the most nostalgic and sen- ttmental season of the year. There are traditionswe as- sociate with Christmas, ob- servances that we faithfully perform every year that speak of family and friends often no longer with us. There are certain foods that are prepared only at Christ- mas or special ornaments that appear every year to take their place on the Christmas tree, most every family has traditions associ- ated with Christmas that extend back into the mist of time. Of all the traditions we lov- ingly perform at Christmas, none is more meaningful than arranging the Creche under the Christmas tree. Each piece occupies a spe- cial place with a family story attached that enlivens it, giving it a special meaning known only to our loved ones. The origin of the Christ- mas creche (from the Latin cripia meaning crib) is re- markable in itself for it re- sides with St. Francis of Assisi, the Saint who called himself, "A fool for God." The story has come down to us through the writings Saint Bonaventure in his *Life of Saint Francis" and through tradition, Francis is attrib- uted with the introduction of the Presepio to the many customs associated with Christmas. The Presepio is described as a three dimen- sional representation of the birth of Jesus Christ, com- posed of mobile figures artis- tically arranged as well as realistic elements such as houses, rocks, plants, etc. The earliest representa- tion of the Nativity can be seen in a fresco found in the catacombs of Saint Priscilla, 2 nd century AD, portraying the Mother and Child, the Three Wise Men, Saint Joseph, and above a star with eight points. In the year 1223, three years before his passing, Saint Francis was visiting Grecio, a small town in the hills of Tuscany, to celebrate Christmas. Francis realiz- ing that the chapel of the Franciscan hermitage would be too small to hold the con- gregation for Midnight Mass found a niche in the rocks near the town square and set up an altar. He took a man- ger and filled it with hay, tied a donkey and an ox near it and with a crowd of people from the neighboring coun- tryside, attended the cel- ebration of Mass in front of the crib. It was from this simple beginning that the Nativity scene, as we know it to- day evolved. The earliest Presepio or Nativity Scenes in Italy date to the 14 m cen- tury. Ambrogio della Robbia created the first multicol- ored Nativity Scene in terracotta, found at the church of the Holy Spirit in MERRY CHRISTMAS!![ Siena. The Council of Trent, which closed in 1563, issued precise norms for devotion to the saints and relics and encouraged the diffusion of th.e Presepio or Nativity scene as an expression of popular piety. The Jesuits added to the representation ornamental profusion and distanced it increasingly from its origi- nal Franciscan simplicity. The 17 th century saw the appearance and develop- ment of scenic effects. Nativity scenes became a mirror for the culture which produced them, reflecting the society of the day incor- porating aspects of daily life with traits of intense real- ism -- they were enriched with unusual and exotic elements and scenery. At this time the Presepio began to step out of churches to be displayed in the home, large statues were replaced with wooden figures sometimes partly of straw with head and limbs in terracotta, wax or wood adorned with sumptu- ous clothing. The Nativity Scene as we know it today, whether simple or elaborate is the representation of the birth of Jesus, the Son of God, Who came into the world to redeem mankind; it is the most monumental event in human history, represented in tiny figures beneath our Christmas trees inspired by Saint Francis.