Assisi, Italy, December 17, 2021 / 3:17 p.m. (CNA).
The birthplace of Saint Francis, Assisi, has once again been illuminated by Giotto’s frescoes this Christmas season.
The frescoes from inside the Basilica of St. Francis are projected onto the city’s churches every night from December 8 to January 10.
Giotto (1267-1337) is the medieval artist credited with painting frescoes of the life of Saint Francis as well as biblical scenes in the Basilica of Saint Francis in Assisi.
Painted on the walls and ceilings, these images inside the basilica can be difficult to see. The illuminated display allows passers-by and virtual viewers to see Giotto’s work in greater detail.
Giotto’s Nativity is projected on the facade of the Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi, while the Annunciation is illuminated on the Cathedral of San Rufino. Both scenes also feature life-size figurines displayed in front of the churches.
An adaptation of Giotto’s Visitation has been projected onto the façade of St. Clare’s Basilica and St. Peter’s Abbey in Assisi features an illumination of the “Adoration of the Magi”.
Assisi first launched its Giotto Christmas light display in December 2020, but Italian coronavirus restrictions last year prevented people from outside the Umbria region from visiting Assisi during the Christmas season. Christmas.
The Franciscan Friars of Assisi have created a website that allows those unable to see the lights in person to virtually view the Christmas display with videos and spiritual reflections.
Assisi has a special connection with the tradition of nativity scenes. Saint Francis of Assisi established the first nativity scene in 1223 in the nearby town of Greccio.
Pope Francis visited Assisi in 2019 to sign an apostolic letter, “Admirabile signum”, calling for nativity scenes to be more widely displayed in family homes and public places around the world.
The letter also details the story behind St. Francis’ first nativity scene, or nativity scene. The saint asked a friend 15 days before Christmas to help him prepare to “bring to life” the memory of Christ’s birth in Bethlehem.
“When Saint Francis arrived, he found a manger full of hay, an ox and a donkey. All those present felt a new and indescribable joy in the presence of the Christmas scene. The priest then solemnly celebrated the Eucharist above the manger, showing the link between the Incarnation of the Son of God and the Eucharist. At Greccio there were no statues; the nativity scene was played and experienced by all who were present,” the letter explains.
Thomas de Celano, the first biographer of Saint Francis, wrote that a person present at Mass had a vision of the child Jesus himself lying in the manger.
“In a special way, from its Franciscan origins, the nativity scene invites us to ‘feel’ and ‘touch’ the poverty that the Son of God took upon himself in the Incarnation. Implicitly, it calls us to follow him on the path of humility, poverty and self-sacrifice that leads from the manger in Bethlehem to the cross,” Pope Francis wrote.