Vatican City, Nov 23, 2012 / 04:02 am
The Vatican has started construction on its annual nativity set in St. Peter's Square, and the display is expected to include a few animals that may not have been at Jesus' birth.
The Pope said in his third book on the life of Christ, "Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives," released Nov. 21, that the ox and the donkey, which are regularly included in nativity scenes, are not mentioned in the gospels.
But they are included in other parts of the Bible, which could have inspired Christians to use them in representations of the birth of Jesus.
"No representation of the manger is complete without the ox and donkey," Pope Benedict says in his new book, explaining that "Christian iconography adopted this motif at an early stage" because it conveys the humble circumstances of Jesus' birth.