Greccio & the Live Nativity
A great event during Christmas time to celebrate St Francis and his live nativity, the first ever made
Greccio is a small town near Rieti, where St Francis conceived the first living nativity scene ever made in history, in 1223.
To keep this tradition alive, the inhabitants of Greccio recreate this live nativity scene every year since 1973, a great event one might participate during Christmas time.
Video full text: Rieti and the Holy Valley
Here there’s the Gulf of Naples, the Circeo, this is Rome and this is Rieti.
I’m in the centre of Italy, in Piazza Centro d’Italia in Rieti!
This is the place where Italy’s Patron Saint, Francis (who was not yet a saint) and the inspiration behind the encyclical Laudato si set off on his travels through Rieti’s Holy Valley.
I too am here to follow in the footsteps of Francis,
like these children I meet here in the square with their Mayor, with his tricolour mayoral sash, who is giving them something. What is it?
The Mayor calls out the children’s name from a register.
What is it?
This is the pilgrim’s passport, we have one for you too!
I have handed them out to the children who will visit the four Franciscan sanctuaries in the Holy Valley.
At the end of the pilgrimage the municipality of Rieti will hand them a final certificate.
This walk goes in a circle, Rieti is both the start and finishing point.
Along it one visits all four sanctuaries, taking a beautiful walk through nature.
Is it a very hard walk?
It’s around 80 km and it’s possible to do 20 km a day which means you can do the entire walk in four days.
You can visit the city of Rieti and the four Franciscan sanctuaries.
Which one do you like the most? (all the children together reply) Greccio!
Every sanctuary is linked to a particular moment in the life and spiritual development of Saint Francis.
The children are particularly fond of Greccio because it’s where Francis has the ingenious idea, in 1223, of creating a living nativity scene.
In Fonte Colombo he wrote the rule of the Franciscan Order.
Foresta is where he found the inspiration for the Canticle of the Creatures
Poggio Bustone is the place he uttered those famous words that even the Pope used when he was elected: “Good day good people”.
It was the first place Saint Francis came across after having left Assisi.
At that time he was not yet a saint, he was simply Francis.
He wasn’t even a friar, but just someone who had given up everything, deciding to live in a particular way.
He is a unique character, one with the power to bring together both believers and non-believers.
He goes beyond everyone’s spiritual conventions as well as their philosophical and cultural thinking.
He is an ecumenical person, in the true sense of the word.
A hippy ante litteram!
The first man in the history of mankind to consider human beings, other living creatures and nature as equals.
He is considered the first ever environmentalist in history.
So Mr Mayor, I’m setting out on Francis’ journey. A journey that everyone can take.
When you return you’ll get your final certificate.
I can’t have it now I suppose?
Of course you can’t. Have a good journey.
So children, what is there to see here in Rieti? I don’t even have a map!
Palazzo Vecchiarelli, in via Roma, a really old building.
The church of St. Francis, built in medieval times.
The fountain of dolphins, with tritons too! That’s beautiful and really old as well.
On my way here I saw a lot of Roman walls.
And then what? The Cathedral!
Hey, children, do you have a guide? “Along the roads of the pilgrims”, truly lovely!
It’s available in English too, for foreign tourists. “Discover Lazio”
Let’s see what we find as we follow the road of the pilgrims.
Thanks for the guides, I need them. And now I have them, not only in Italian but English too.