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The appearance of the crib in our churches
is a sure sign that Christmas is at the doorstep.
St. Francis of Assisi assembled the first crib
in a cave on an Italian hillside in 1223.
His aim was to make the Christmas story come alive
for the shepherds and farmers of the locality

On Christmas Eve the Friars and the people assembled
with candles and torches to illuminate the night.
Then Francis arrived and was very happy
when he saw the preparations they had made

The crib was put in place.
The hay was brought in.
The ox and donkey were led forward.
The woods rang with their prayers.
The rocks echoed with their hymns

Francis spoke to them about God’s Son coming among
us to help us realise our splendid dignity
as sons and daughters of the same Father

At the end of the vigil
They all returned to their homes
full of peace and joy
feeling very close to God
and to one another

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