The Vatican has displayed a suspicious amount of apocalyptic or creepy art, especially in recent years – from the infamous “Broken Cross” staff used by popes since Paul IV, the ugly, huge “Resurrection” statue that looks like Jesus erupting from an explosion in the Paul VI audience hall, the Death Star-like Giant Fractured Sphere displayed in the Courtyard of the Pinecone (which has its own occult/pagan connections). But this year’s Christmas crib in St. Peter’s Square is particularly troubling in a number of ways. I went looking to see if there was a caganer hiding in the back, but what was out in plain view was even more incongruous.
First of all, the scene is not set in the traditional stable, but beneath a shattered church dome. Where the center of the dome should be is the Star of Bethlehem. However, it is 7-pointed (with one point down) and the trail streams upward like a flame. It appears very much like a meteor which has just destroyed the dome.
On the far left, a shrine remains standing among the rubble. For some reason, on the wall is a copy of the icon of Our Lady of Montevergine, who is supposedly the patroness of the LGBT community. She is said to be revered by gays and especially transgenders. It was the Benedictine Abbey of Montevergine which proposed and designed the display.
Within the scene, the people below take no notice of the disaster. It may be hard to picture as the Baby Jesus is not present – the photos having been taken before Christmas – but where he will be by the attention of the freaked out expressions on the bald Wise Man to the right and especially Mary on the left. Note that she’s crouching, half-risen, hands spread in surprise, mouth agape, eyebrows lowered in anger. Whatever the child is going to be up to, it’s already freaking her the hell out.
The rest of the busy scene is equally disturbing. Prominently displayed at the right side is the reclining figure of a muscular, almost naked man. Down below, another man is looking in horror at a covered corpse being shoved into a tomb. There’s also a prisoner in a cell, a presumably sick guy propped up on the rocks, and another bald guy begging for a drink. Supposedly these are all depictions of the Corporal Works of Mercy – clothe the naked, visit the sick and imprisoned, and so on.
While hailed as “bringing joy to hardened hearts”, these characters have absolutely no place in a traditional Christmas scene but they add much to the apocalyptic vibe. Only one shepherd has come to visit and there are no farmyard animals whatsoever – no cows or donkeys or sheep. And none of the figures looks happy or peaceful – not even the angels below Mary.
Whatever the declared message of this spectacle, the mute images tell an ominous story. One that reeks of the Apocalypse, forebodes the destruction of the Catholic Church, and lauds the transgender agenda. And this is even without the figure of the Infant Jesus that Mary looks in horror upon. I’m not sure I want to see what they do to him.
Merry Christmas! May God preserve us in the year to come. It looks like we’re going to need some powerful divine protection and sooner than we think.