THE NATIVITIES COLLECTION
Virtual Tour Available
The Public Exhibition of the Collection will not take place this year.
For 27 years starting in 1995, we shared our nativities collection with the public as an exhibit, during the season of Advent. A selection of 58 nativities in the narthex and gallery illustrating the birth stories of Luke and Matthew and accompanied by scripture and hymn texts were presented as a self-guided exhibit. The remaining 257 creches were displayed in the parish hall.
Beginning last year, it was decided to just display for the parish the nativities that highlight the differences between the birth story as told in the Gospels of Luke and Matthew.
The two gospels, St. Matthew and St. Luke differ in the way they tell the birth stories. St. Matthew’s gospel accentuates the history of the Old Testament people. St. Luke’s gospel presents the story by using ordinary people who participate in the unfolding drama.
Parishioners and visitors to our services will be able to enjoy the crèche scenes beginning in Advent through our Feast Day, the Feast of the Epiphany, which takes place on January 6.
In 2020, when we could not have the exhibit for the public or even a display for our parishioners due to the pandemic, one of our parishioners took the photo inventory and created a wonderful 13 minute virtual tour of 93 of them.
More about the Collection
Our original collection of Nativities was acquired by a bequest from Dr. William Lemonds in loving memory of James Lattimer Anderson Belcher in 1995.
Years of personal travel and gifts from many friends resulted in Bill Lemonds’ collection of 200 crèches bequeathed to Epiphany. A fascinating mixture of fine art and amateur crafts, the nativity scenes abound in their proclamation of the Messiah’s birth.
Other nativities have been given by parishioners and friends of the parish over the years, bringing our collection to just over 300 nativities.
Countries and cultures reflected in the figures include: Mexico, North Georgia, Orthodox Russia, Poland, Polynesia, Renaissance Germany, Renaissance Italy, Southern Appalachia, Taiwan, The West Indies, even a Hollywood film set!
Some of the materials used to create the scenes include: Alaskan mud, balsa, bisque, felt, foil, gourds, paper, mahogany, marble, melted plastic, olive wood, paper-mâché, pewter, straw, Styrofoam, terracotta, tin, and volcanic ash.
Christmas trees derive from customs adopted as Germanic tribes were converted to the faith. This tiny tree is decorated with holy symbols: Mary, Joseph and Jesus.
This holy family from the Himalayas is accompanied by a long-haired sheep or goat. Nepalese wool workers crafted this set.
This birch and masonite nativity is Polish.
From Uruguay, this nativity takes gourd-art and combines it with the wonderful cloth making skills and leather work of the local crafters.
A Holy Family in a broken down corner reminds us of homeless families among us.
These Haitian figures are painted clay. The simple stable is a coconut shell. Notice the two pairs of twins, all of a piece!
Twice-glazed clay makes up this dark nativity which captures the awe and curiosity of both animals and people.