THE NATIVITY AS IT REALLY WAS

Religious art inaccurately portrays the Messiah's birthplace

Jesus was born in a stable, a real stable, not the bright, airy portico which Christian painters have created for the Son of David, as if ashamed that their God should have laid down in poverty and dirt. And not the modern Christmas-eve “Holy Stable,” either, made of plaster of paris, with the little candy-like statuettes, the Holy Stable, clean and prettily painted, with a neat, tidy manger, an ecstatic ass, a contrite ox, and angels fluttering their wreaths on the roof – this is not the stable where Jesus was born.

A typical barn in the Middle East

The poor, old stable of Christ’s old, poor country is only four rough walls, a dirty pavement, a roof of beams and slate. It is dark and reeking. The filthiest place in the world was the first room of the only Pure Man ever born of woman.

It was not by chance that Christ was born here. What is the world but an immense stable where men produce filth and wallow in it?  Upon this earthly pigsty, where no decorations or perfumes can hide the odor filth, Jesus appeared one night, born of a Virgin.

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Excerpted from LIFE OF CHRIST by Giovanni Papini (January 9, 1881 – July 8, 1956)

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