The Roman Basilica of St. Mary Major is home to the oldest known nativity statues in all of history. Because the first nativity scene created by St. Francis in Assisi was composed of live enactments, the first Franciscan Pope, Nicholas IV, commissioned statues from Italian artist Arnolfo di Cambio to represent the nativity scene. Professor Sante Guido, a Roman restorer and art historian, brings us inside the basilica where the original sculptures are now kept at the altar of St. Jerome. Arnolfo di Cambio decided to sculpt statues of the main figures found in the Bible: Mary with the child Jesus, St. Joseph, the ox and donkey and the three Kings. However, fifteen years ago, the statues were moved from the basilica to be restored, and it was discovered that the statue of our Lady with baby Jesus had been resculpted in the sixteenth century. Ever since the oldest nativity sculptures at St. Mary Major were on display, the tradition of creating the creche in all shapes and sizes has spread throughout the world. Rome Correspondent, Colm Flynn reports.
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