‘Nativity’ explains one of the major Christmas traditions

MONCKS CORNER — “Nativity, The Art and Spirit of the Creche” is a new 30-minute TV documentary that explores the history, styles, and spiritual meaning of the Christmas nativity scene. It was filmed last month at Mepkin Abbey.

The film combines images of art and craftsmanship with history and thought-provoking insights about why the creche has been so meaningful to people around the world for more than 1,500 years. It is a program for the entire family and anyone who wants to understand more fully one of the major Christmas traditions.

“Nativity” features 47 nativity scenes selected from a collection of more than 2,000 nativity figures. They reflect the amazing diversity of 25 countries on five continents. Materials range from fine Italian silks and French porcelains to ebony wood, coconut shells and recycled Coke cans. Figures are dressed in everything from American Indian headdresses to tropical loin cloths to frilly baroque dresses.

The collection, now owned by the Trappist Monastery of Mepkin Abbey, was created over a 45-year period by Earl Kage of Rochester, N.Y. He recently donated 297 nativity scenes to Mepkin Abbey, which hosts a popular Christmas Creche festival every year.

The video includes commentaries on the nativity by Dominican Father Paul Philibert, professor of theology at St. Louis University; Father Francis Kline, abbot of Mepkin Abbey; and Kage.

Music for the program was specially selected from 21 medieval and baroque Christmas works by Albinoni, Charpentier, Locatelli, Stradella, Corelli, Bach, and Ockeghem. Performers include the Toronto-based Aradia Ensemble, The German Boys Choir, the Cologne Chamber Orchestra, the Capella Istropolitana of Bratislava, and the Oxford Camerata.

“Nativity” was produced by Robert G. Maier, whose documentary film “Trappist” has played on more than 200 PBS and ABC affiliate stations.

How to order
To order the documentary “Nativity” go to the abbey’s Web site at www.mepkinabbey.org/abbeystore/index.htm or call the abbey store at (843) 761-8509.