The thoughtful gift brings a touch of home to the Pope Emeritus as he prepares to celebrate Christmas.
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI received a small crib from his native Bavaria on December 8, 2021, the Diocese of Regensburg reported on its website the next day. A similar nativity was also given to Pope Francis.
December 8, the feast of the Immaculate Conception, is the traditional date for the installation of Christmas decorations and nativity scenes in Italy. The large nativity scene in St. Peter’s Square—originally from Peru this year—was unveiled on December 10.
To celebrate this “crèche season”, a “crèche pilgrimage” from Bavaria came to Rome this year, led by the bishop of Regensburg, Rudolf Voderholzer.
The German prelate visited the most famous Bavarian resident of Rome, Benedict XVI, who lives in the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery in the heart of the Vatican Gardens. After being received by his secretary, Archbishop Georg Gänswein, he gave the Pontiff Emeritus a special gift: a crib.
The gift depicts a snowy Christmas scene, a deliberate reminder of the 265th pope’s native Bavaria. The setting is simple: the Holy Family under a poor shelter, surrounded by a donkey and an ox. In gratitude, the Pope Emeritus gave the pilgrims his blessing.
A similar nativity was brought for Pope Francis but was not given to him directly. The gift was a way to thank the Pope for his 2019 Apostolic Letter Admirabile Signum, on nativity scenes, in which he highlights the great spiritual value of this popular Christian tradition.
The pilgrims were participating in the exhibition “100 Nativity Scenes in the Vatican” which is being held for the third consecutive year at the Vatican by the Holy See. It is an exhibition of nativity scenes from around the world that pilgrims can visit under the southern colonnade of Bernini in St. Peter’s Square.