‘Village of Faith’ A scriptural Christmas village

By: Ador Vincent S. Mayol December 23,2017 - 10:17 PM


IN a world where Christmas is associated with reindeers, ribbons, snow flakes, or Santa Claus, students and formators of the San Carlos Seminary College (SCSC) offer an alternative.

Using styrofoams coated with wall putty, seminarians put together various tableaux of the birth of Jesus Christ and other related scenes, which were reminiscent of the first Christmas.

They call the masterpiece a “Village of Faith.”

“We observed that the celebration has become more secular as years passed by. Now, we want to remind everyone about the real Christmas story, and so we thought of making a scriptural Christmas village,” said Fr. Philip Pepito, who guided about 20 seminarians in putting up the exhibit.

Displayed at the lobby of the seminary located in Barangay Mabolo, Cebu City, were tableau depicting the annunciation by the angel Gabriel to the Blessed Virgin Mary that she would conceive and become the mother of Jesus, the visitation of Mary to her cousin Elizabeth, the birth of St. John the Baptist, King Herod’s encounter with the magis, the birth of Jesus, the Holy Family’s flight to Egypt, the presentation of the child Jesus in the temple, and the slaughter of young male children in Bethlehem.

The seminary exhibit runs until February 2018, and is open to the public daily, free of charge, from 7 a.m. to 12 midnight.

Reaching out

It took over three months to finish the exhibit, said Nikko Marc Ricaplaza, a second year college seminarian and head of the Artist Guild of SCSC.
A long-time seminary benefactress who requested anonymity donated P40,000 for the project while seminarians gathered some P30,000 from other donors.

“This is our way to evangelize people. As they gaze upon the exhibits, we want them to feel the very first Christmas,” Ricaplaza told Cebu Daily News.
Starting the project, he said, was an uphill climb.

“There was lack of eagerness at first. But as the days went by, and seeing the stuffs we’ve made one after the other, we worked hard even to the point of staying awake until 2 a.m. and then waking up for our morning prayers at 5:15 a.m.,” Ricaplaza said.

“I’m glad we made it,” he added.

The exhibit was finished in time for the Christmas choral concert at the SCSC auditorium last Dec. 14 to 17.

The concert dubbed as “Kagahapon, Karon” was directed by SCSC rector, Fr. Benedicto Tao and Msgr. Rodolfo Villanueva.

History of the nativity scene

In the Philippines, the new liturgical year is dedicated for the clergy and consecrated persons.

The year is aimed at helping the clergy become more “renewed servant-leaders for the new evangelization.”

In 2013, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines launched a nine-year “spiritual journey towards the 500th Jubilee of Christianization of the Philippines in 2021 with different themes for each year.

Putting up of a creche or a tableau representing the scene of Jesus’ birth dates back to St. Francis of Assisi in 1293.

Desiring to represent as faithfully as possible the lowly birth of the savior born in Bethlehem, St. Francis ordered the building of a stable in the words of Greccio in Italy.

And on Christmas Eve, when the crib was ready, hay was brought while real ox and a donkey were led to the spot.

Francis then sang the gospel and preached.

All other characters in the nativity scene then were composed of actual people.

The idea quickly spread all over the Christian world, and soon there were nativity sets in churches and homes.

The creche was introduced to the Filipinos by the Spaniards in 1565.

Visual reminder

Msgr. Joseph Tan, media liaison officer of the Archdiocese of Cebu and dean of studies of SCSC, said the “Village of Faith” helps people visualize the story of Christ’s birth.

“The purpose is to make more visually available the mystery of the incarnation or the coming of God as man,” he said.

“We need to concretize what we believe in. That’s the nature of our faith. God became man so that He will become palpable or touchable by people,” he added.

Amid the secular celebration of Christmas, Tan said people should be reminded about the true essence of the season.

“It’s very humbling to realize how the first Christmas took place in all simplicity. It’s quite far from how we celebrate it at present,” he said.

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