In what has become a Christmas tradition on bustling Logan Square in center city Philadelphia, the outdoor Nativity crèche was blessed for the season on Wednesday, Dec. 13 just as it has been every year since 1997.
The crèche, which was donated by the Ancient Order of Hibernians and the Knights of Columbus, was displayed in its early history at Independence National Park and was known as the National Christmas Crèche Nativity Scene. Since 2009 it has been displayed at the Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul across from Logan Square.
“The presence of the Nativity scene at 18th Street and Benjamin Franklin Parkway will invite all who pass by to think about Our Lord and his birth,” said Cathedral Rector Father Dennis Gill, who presided over the blessing ceremony.
Although most of the original committee members for the Nativity crèche are now deceased, two were on hand – Patrick Stanton and John Kelly.
“I’ve always liked the story of the birth of Jesus and I was with this committee when it was at Independence Mall,” Kelly said.
“It was a whole team. We lost our last man Jimmy Tayoun this year,” said Patrick Stanton, whose father, the late John Stanton, was also part of the founding committee. “This ceremony means there is hope for the city. Jesus is here on this thoroughfare. The cars, buses and trucks can see there is hope from Jesus Christ.”
In recent years choir members from nearby St. Francis Xavier School have lent their voices to the ceremony and this year was no different in spite of the bitter cold. Their enthusiasm lent the needed warmth. And with the permission of St. Francis principal Dolores Butler, Father Gill announced they were excused from homework that evening.
“I’m thrilled. We’ve been doing this for years now and the students were asking when we were coming,” Butler said. “It makes the Christmas season so much better.”
The students at her school definitely got the message.
“The spirit of Christmas doesn’t mean presents, I can tell you that,” said Clark Moran, grade four. “It means going to church, seeing the decorations and everybody happy with the Christ Child.”
Colin Flynn, also grade four, echoed those sentiments: “Christmas means the joy of the birth of Jesus,” he said. “Seeing everybody happy makes me happy too.”
May the spirit of joy engendered by the crèche of Jesus continue at the Cathedral and throughout the world for many years to come, just as it has for more than 2,000 years and counting.
Help us keep you informed -- CatholicPhilly.com can't do it without youDuring CatholicPhilly.com's fall donation campaign, you have a way to help us deliver the kind of news you need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live. Every household's costs keep rising, and we're no different. We make sure your dollars in any amount go a long way toward continuing our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month. Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can -- a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community.
Make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103
Or by credit card here: