Students from the art and construction classes at Cronulla's De La Salle College have spent a lot of time and love on a project for their local parish. Father Tom realised that the old Nativity Scene had seen better days and commissioned the college to produce a new one to engage the large congregations the church attracts over the Christmas period.
Construction students built the structure, whilst art students took over the paint job. They painted a background based on the early Renaissance paintings of the Nativity they had been studying in class by such Italian Masters as Botticelli, Gozzoli and Pinturicchio. These artists painted some of the first Nativities after St Francis popularised the devotion.
The stable is covered in grape vines as an allusion to the coming Eucharistic Sacrifice. The landscape background depicts the Flight to Egypt, which the students considered an appropriate theme at the closing of the Jubilee Year of Mercy. The Holy Family are of course one of history's most famous refugee families.
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The blessing was held at the celebration of the end of academic year Mass. In his blessing Fr Tom referred to the great tradition of St. Francis and wished those student artists making the College Pilgrimage to Assisi over the holidays a safe journey.