Preparing to Celebrate the Birth of Our Savior: Oldest Nativity, Rome

By: Sarah Bishop

Posted: January 6, 2022

Category: Daily Devotional

Our final image is of what scholars believe to be one of the oldest crèche. Found in Italy, it is a group of marble figures housed in Rome’s Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore and attributed to the sculptor Arnolfo di Cambio; the figures have been variously dated from 1284 to 1289.

We hope that enjoying these varied and precious creches and nativities allow you to carry the hope of the Christ Child with you into this new year. Thanks for joining us.

Scripture: Matthew 2:1-12

In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, 2asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.” 3When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; 4and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. 5They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet: 6‘And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who is to shepherd my people Israel.’” 7Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. 8Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.”

9When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. 11On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. 12And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.


Child of Wonder, we are awed by the holy night in all its wonderment and the gift of the Christ child to all people. In sharing the story in these images, we are reminded to carry Your presence with us. And so we figurately, fall on our knees and worship You, the Newborn King bringing our gifts, Amen.