Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A Procession of Presepe

This interesting logo was on the information plaques and behind the presepe at Piazza Vittorio Emanuele. I think its a lovely piece of graphic art in itself.

I have often posted comments and photos of the presepe that appear in churches, homes and public spaces here at Christmastide. They range from the antique bejewelled panoramas of the various Italian courts to a simple, made in China, plastic representation of the Madonna, Joseph and Child on a mound of celluloid hay. Most churches have one - though on a walk through Santa Maria Maggoire yesterday none was to be found but the little Basilica of Santa Prudenziana nearby made up for it by having seven. Most countries with Christian traditions have a "national" church in Roma and in the case of Santa Prudenziana it is the national church of the Philippines. As well as their parish presepe they had a display of crèches made by various groups that operate out of the parish.
Frankly it was a little difficult to make out the Holy Family amongst all the glitz and glitter on the Parish presepe at the front of the church but they are there.

This little gem of a church can be easily overlooked as its courtyard and entrance are about 30 feet below the current street level. In fact if it had not been for our friend Marie-Paule drawing our attention to the 14th century bell tower we would have passed it by. It is considered the oldest place of Christian worship in Roma and was the residence of the Pope until Constantine offered the Palazzo Laterano as the official Papal residence. I plan to make another visit and post a bit more - including some photos of the wonderful 4th century mosaics that are amongst the oldest examples in the city of that art form using Christian symbols.

I'm not sure if these home-made presepe were part of a contest or just an attempt by various groups in the parish to interrupted the season in their own fashion. I rather like the bubble headed nativity at the bottom of this trio.

The probability is high that these crèches are closer to what San Fransisco had in mind when he instituted the practice with a living nativity in 1223. Myself I must admit I have a weakness for the elaborate displays seen in many of the other churches though there is a devotional tone to these that is touching.

Further down the road at Piazza Vittorio, in an area known for its ethnic markets and diversity, a recent tradition has been to invite a local artist to create a presepe in the spirit of the quartiere.

In "Scacco Natale" (The Nativity of Chessmen) sculpture Leandro Lottici has created five chess pieces in polished teak to represent the central figures of the Nativity: Mary (Queen), Joseph (King), Ox and Ass (Knights) and the Christ Child (Pawn). Its a simple and original concept and I find it rather intriguing that the Pawn, the lowest piece on the board, has been chosen to represent Jesus. And as a side bar this presepe is located in an highly travelled and very public place but remains unmolested or unscared by graffiti - an interesting comment of the people of this city.

In early January I'll be doing a walk with historian Olivia Ercoli and hope to be able to have a few photos of the more traditional presepe on display over Christmastide.

29 decembre - San Tommaso Becket

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I liked the bubble headed ones too..
I like them when they are rustic looking beautiful

FF14 Gil said...

I liked the percolate advancing ones too..
I like them when they are traditional looking wonderful
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