Tuesday August 16,



Written by Alan Hustak for VMO
Tuesday December 22nd,

The Nativity as interpreted by more than 200 artists from around the world can be seen in an exhibition at St. Joseph’s Oratory in Montreal. The multi-media collection of figurines, carvings and paintings depicting the birth of Christ has grown, and has become something of a tradition, in the city since the first showing of 25 creches from five countries was mounted at the Oratory in 1979.

The theme of this year’s display, which runs until the end of March, “ A Star for You,” pays homage to UNESCO’s declaration making the international year of light and has been inspired by Acadien singer Angèle Arsenault’s composition Y’a une étoile pour vous.

The Holy Family is depicted as Aboriginals, Blacks, Asians, and in some cases, as otherworldly creatures. The crèche from Syria, for example, is unique in that the star swirling above the figures is really the Lord’s Prayer in Arabic. The oldest depiction is a ceramic plate from 1550, the newest is a crèche made of sand sculptures. One of the most elaborate are the pieces from Rwanda carved from black cedar wood. The largest, which dominates the entry hall, is the theatrical life-size crèche by Joseph Guardo which used to be installed outside the Oratory each Christmas. The most delicate is a mother-of-pearl carving from Israel. Some of the crèches are whimsical, others like the Holy Family as mice, are surreal, and one which features Jesus, Mary, and Joseph as sculptured bowling pins is inspired by folk art.

“All the pieces are of museum quality and are all selected for their artistic quality. A selection committee determines what we accept in the collection,” said curator, Chantal Turbide. “Most of the crèches on display have been donated to the Oratory over the years but we have a small acquisition budget which allows us to buy smaller pieces. We don’t accept everything that is given to us. We evaluate all the donations.” 

According to the New Catholic Encylopedia, crèches originated in Italy where they are called presepil, which means , “where we keep the animals.” Nativity scenes from the 4th century have been unearthed from the catacombs in Rome, but they didn’t become popular until 1223 when St. Francis of Assissi presided over the first crib ceremony in Greccio. The priest who started it all, curator emeritus André Bergeron, says he came up with the idea because, “it is a story that endures, it is cyclical, like a wheel that keeps on turning. No one ever tires of telling it through art.”



Last Night at the Gayete


By Deborah Rankin

The Centaur Theatre's - season is drawing to a close with its final production of Last Night at the Gayety, a musical comedy by Bowser & Blue which runs until May 22nd.

Read more


I entrust you to the maternal care of our Mother who lives in the glory of God and is always by our side on our life’s journey.

by Pope Francis

Father Dowd Trust Fund

Paul Donovan walks the Camino Ignatiano

Follow former Loyola High School principal, Paul Donovan, as he walks the famous 700km Camino Ignatiano.



Read his blog


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