While the city of Alicante, Spain, has just set the record for the largest Nativity scene ever recorded, the smallest is still holding strong. Known as the “Nano Holy Family,” the smallest Nativity scene was created in 2017 and it can fit inside the eye of a needle.
The Sun reports that the microscopic model was produced by scientists at Vilnius University, with funding from the Lithuanian government. The incredibly small sculptures are a replica of the Nativity scene at Cathedral Square in Vilnius, Lithuania. The resulting work of art is estimated to be 10,000 times smaller than the original, which was life-sized. The work took 30 experts three months to complete.
The feat was accomplished through the use of 3-D printing, and is not visible to the naked eye. A 2017 report from USA Today explains that the Lithuanian Nativity scene had to be digitally scanned in order for experts to shrink its proportions. In photos, the Nativity scene was painstakingly placed on a needle’s eye for reference. It is also said to be able to fit on the span of a human eyelash.
An eye for detail
Despite its microscopic size, the “Nano Holy Family” contains a surprising amount of detail. The robes of the human figures are very cloth-like in how they cling, and the manger shows individual hay strands. One of the most impressive aspects is that one can make out the face of infant Jesus, even though he’s smaller than a human cell.
In 2017, Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite sent the microscopic miniature to Pope Francis as a Christmas gift. The team created four other copies of this Nativity scene. One went to Lithuania’s Presidential Palace, while another was reserved for the Vilnius Archdiocese. The remaining two copies were put up for public display.
On the website that chronicled their efforts, the Vilnius University team noted that they submitted the scene to Guinness World Records for official recognition. Of the work, they said:
“Sometimes the most important and impressive things are invisible to the naked eye, but we all know that they are real and true. This is the world’s smallest Nativity scene; and although you cannot see it with your naked eye, it is real and it is here.”
The world’s largest Nativity scene is in Alicante, Spain