The new location of the exhibit, under the colonnade, is where some homeless people spend the day. At night, many more sleep around the outside edge of the colonnade in sleeping bags or tents if they have them -- or on top of cardboard to protect them from the cold stone.
“Everyone will be able to stop and admire the beauty of many nativity scenes from different parts of the world and understand how much love and imagination have been put into the creation of the manger scene,” a press release from the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization said.
“If we are experiencing a feeling of sadness or loneliness, let us approach the crib and look at the Baby Jesus who wants to be welcomed. Then we too stretch out our arms, hold him and we will feel less alone,” Fisichella told Vatican News.
The New Evangelization office, which organizes the exhibit each year, said that “Christmas is the light that comes into the world to dispel the darkness of evil.”
“These Christmas holidays, it would make no sense to look away as if the dramatic moment that the whole world is experiencing did not exist. Faith requires us to look at reality and give meaning to what happens in personal history and in humanity,” it said.
The display was opened to visitors Dec. 13 and will close after Jan. 10.
Photographs of nativity scenes by Hannah Brockhaus/CNA