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Churches put on Christmas light shows to invite the curious inside


Sala Stampa Sacro Convento Assisi

Giotto’s Nativity is projected on the facade of the Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi.

Sherry Weddell - published on 12/11/20

These outdoor light displays are a beautiful way to rouse spiritual curiosity even in those with little or no Christian background.

A gorgeous new outdoor Advent and Christmas tradition is emerging around the world.

Cathedrals and other large historic churches like the Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi project beautiful images of great Christian art and the Nativity on their exterior walls at night during Advent.

This has been done beautifully for years at St. Mary’s Cathedral in downtown Sydney, Australia, where the display goes on every night for weeks.

For Christmas 2020, the Cathedral of St. Paul in Minneapolis will be putting on a similar light show from December 17 – 19 that will also be viewable from their Facebook page.

A beautiful way to evangelize

As a form of open-to-everyone Advent celebration, glowing Christian art projected onto our large churches is a brilliant way to tell Jesus’ story and rouse spiritual curiosity even in those with little or no Christian background. This could easily become an annual Christmas tradition in cities and towns where a local cathedral or a large parish church is located in a place with lots of foot traffic.

saint assisi basilica
Sala Stampa Sacro Convento Assisi

Imagine what we could do next Christmas when the pandemic has subsided.How about combining a dazzling light display with a version of “Night Fever” Eucharistic Adoration?

We could invite those admiring the images outside our churches to come in and experience a true encounter with the presence of the Glorified Eucharistic Jesus who dwells inside; to listen to and sing Christmas carols, to rest, to pray, to talk to someone, to speak to a priest, or to be prayed for. The rector of one cathedral (now a bishop) told me how he would send out postcards to everyone in a two-square mile radius of his church to such an evening in Advent.  As many as 500 people showed up, many of whom had no Catholic background at all!

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