Pope Francis Inspires Unique Nativity Scene at Corpus Christi Church in Woodside, Queens

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By Emily Drooby

From running water to tiny woven baskets, the details are what makes Corpus Christi Church’s unique nativity scene so engaging.

“The main event is the same, but the other features are so different and so detailed, where you have pots and pans hanging and fishing gear and flower pots, it’s just amazing,” explained parishioner Irene Tiranno.

The crèche sits among the Christmas decor at the Woodside, Queens church.

The work of art sprung from a conversation between crèche artist Alexander Lateo and parish administrator Monsignor Jonas Achacoso, back in October.

At the time the piece was sitting in a basement, unseen by the world. Two short months later, it had been installed.

The piece uses the statues from the church’s old crèche. Everything, including the time it took to set up and refinish the old statues, was donated for free. It’s a ray of sunshine during a difficult year.

“I am so impressed with it, it is really a new shining light on our church that I think we desperately need in the time of the coronavirus pandemic,” José Ramos, a parishioner, told Currents News.

The inspiration to forgo a standard crèche for this more unique piece came from Pope Francis.

In December of 2019, the Holy Father signed an Apostolic letter on the importance of the Nativity scene, encouraging everyone to set up a crèche, “because this is a way for us to really evangelize, to make the message of the birth of our Lord to be known, and engage people into contemplating the real message of Christmas,” explained Msgr. Jonas.

He adds that because this is different from a standard scene, he sees people taking an extra moment to view and talk about it. To him, that says it’s working — people are contemplating.

“The work of art is speaking to them and they’re more engaged in contemplation,” he explained.

The unique nativity scene will be on display at Corpus Christi Church until January 11. It’s located at 31-30 61st Street in Woodside, Queens.