Local Knights of St Columbanus unveil inaugural Christmas crib

Pictured at the unveiling of the Knights of St Columbanus Christmas crib were Grand Knight, Ray Joyce, Knights of St Columbanus Treasurer, David Fenton and Sean Leydon, Crib Designer.

Pictured at the unveiling of the Knights of St Columbanus Christmas crib were Grand Knight, Ray Joyce, Knights of St Columbanus Treasurer, David Fenton and Sean Leydon, Crib Designer.

As the festive season fast approaches, the Athlone branch of the Knights of St Columbanus formally unveiled their inaugural Christmas crib within the surrounds of the organisation’s courtyard in St Mary’s Place, on Friday afternoon last.

Adhering to current public health guidelines, the crib was blessed by the Knights of St Columbanus chaplain, Fr Brendan O’ Sullivan PP, Leamonaghan Ballinahown, Boher and Pullough.

Addressing those present, the Grand Knight, Ray Joyce, afforded his musings on the season of Christ, referencing the first nativity scene created by St Francis of Assisi at Greccio in 1223.

“We all live in a materialistic society where the majority of people are more worried about what we have than who we are. We need to ask ourselves what does Christmas mean to us and what is the place for gift giving and receiving? What do we want our children to grow up believing is important? What values do we want them to inherit? Are we buying too much for our children? These may be uncomfortable questions to answer honestly.

“It was St Francis of Assisi that created the first nativity scene in 1223 at Greccio, central Italy, in an attempt to place the emphasis of Christmas upon the worship of Christ rather than upon secular materialism and gift giving.

“There lived in that town a man by the name of John (Messier Giovanni Velitta ), who was a very holy man. St Francis called upon John two weeks before Christmas and said to him, ‘’f it is your wish that we should celebrate this year’s Christmas together at Greccio, go quickly and prepare what I tell you, for I want to enact the memory of the child Jesus who was born at Bethlehem and how He was placed in the manger on hay between a donkey and an ox. I want to see all of this with my own eyes.’

“John prepared everything that St Francis had told him. The friars who had come from many communities, gathered around St Francis as did the men and women of the neighbourhood. They bought candles and torches to brighten the night. St Francis arrived and saw that everything had been prepared. The crib was ready, hay was brought, the ox and the donkey were led to the spot. The crowds gathered and rejoiced in the celebration.

“Bringing alive the extraordinary scene of Jesus’ birth, St Francis predicted, would inspire devotion among those who viewed it. St Francis’ idea of recreating the nativity scene spread quickly all over the Christian world and soon there were Christmas cribs in churches and homes and also in public places,” the Grand Knight remarked.

The Grand Knight further commended all those who worked cohesively to realise the Christmas crib within the surrounds of the organisation’s courtyard.

“I wish to pay due tribute to Sean Leydon, who designed the crib and together with some ‘elves’ did a marvellous job to bring it to fruition. As with St Francis, the friars here in Athlone assisted as well by providing us with all the statues for the crib and we thank them sincerely for this. I now call on parents to bring along their children this Christmas and see the enactment of the memory of the child Jesus as St Francis did in 1223,” the Grand Knight concluded.

 

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