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Nativity Sets 

The Nativity set is both a cherished Christmas custom and a Sacramental. Pictures representing the Scenes of the Nativity are as old as the catacombs, but St. Francis is famous for introducing its current form. On a Christmas night, not long before his death, he called all the villagers to a nearby cave to see a living nativity scene, complete with living animals. Solemn Mass was celebrated, and St. Francis himself solemnly chanted the Christmas Gospel.

The Nativity set is a composite picture, combining the many different events of Christmas into one scene. It is meant to be instructional as well as devotional. More about the history and development of this Catholic custom can be found here.