Rorate Caeli

A Vatican II moment in the Diocese of Lugano, Switzerland:
The Vatican II crèche, a nativity scene for OUR AGE

Nativity scene at the Sacro Cuore
in Bellinzona (Italian Switzerland)

The creators of this nativity, which at the very least is unusual, declared that the fruit of their inspiration will bring to parishioners an opportunity to reflect on tolerance and on Human Rights.

Installed near the main chapel, next to a large crucifix, six white towers two meters high topped with Islamic crescents surround a baptistery where the baby Jesus is lying. In front, an open book presents parallel quotes from the Koran and the Bible (...)

"We have received as many positive criticisms as negative ones," explain the artisans who created the scene, Matteo Casoni and Letizia Fontana, adding: "For us, it is already a success, since our goal was in fact to make people think and to urge them to ask questions especially at this time of the year. The idea came to us at the end of November after the vote against minarets." The two young artists point out that in no way do they share the opinion of 57% of their fellow citizens who want to ban such constructions.

Matteo Casoni, who is a member of the Sacred Heart community, explains further:

Beyond the political aspects, we said to ourselves that we should encourage reflection on other religions and on their role. In our nativity, the three main monotheistic religions are represented; the Muslim, Jewish and Christian religions. The main message is that of comparison and of dialogue. (...) Saint Francis sought dialogue with Islam, without claiming to want to convert, but with the willingness to resolve a conflict in a peaceful way."

Letizia Fontana, a young historian who works at the Bibliographic Institute of Ticino believes that what she did is an act of civic commitment:

"Someone pointed out to me that this display does not respect the will of the people, making a clear reference to the referendum. But, for me, in a democracy, the minority has weight and especially in a case such as this one, I am part of the minority, and I have a duty to sensitize the population."

Father Callisto Caldelari, the Franciscan monk who is the priest at Sacred Heart approved the display, which is part of a larger initiative to exhibit about forty different nativity scenes:

"We accepted all the creations, the only requirement being that they attain a certain artistic level. This year there will be more than forty nativity scenes: from the traditional to the one illuminated by ultra-violet rays, and the one with six minarets. Naturally, we only accept those that respect our spirituality, and in the case at hand, the fact that a nativity with minarets is in a Franciscan church only reinforces the message of peace and dialogue.”

Father Callisto has nonetheless heard some negative comments:

"Yes! The most negative was precisely the one from the person who said that this nativity goes against the will of the people. I answered him in the following way: the popular will is not always ethical. Here, we speak of fraternity and of Human Rights."

"Since in the course of centuries not a few quarrels and hostilities have arisen between Christians and Moslems, this sacred synod urges all to forget the past and to work sincerely for mutual understanding and to preserve as well as to promote together for the benefit of all mankind social justice and moral welfare, as well as peace and freedom." (Nostra Aetate, 3)
Tip and translation (adapted) by
The Brussels Journal; original source: La Regione Ticino.
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