July 12, 2023 – With the apostolic letter “Admirabile Signum,” signed on December 1, 2019, at the Sanctuary of Greccio (Rieti) and the subsequent audience in the Vatican reserved for the Members of the Ecclesial Coordination for the Franciscan Eighth Centenary, Pope Francis has launched a long path of celebrations that will take place from 2023 to 2026, starting with those related to the first Nativity scene created by Saint Francis in Greccio.
This international event will also be an opportunity to promote the territorial development of the entire Rieti area and beyond. The Nativity scene, an object that enters millions of homes worldwide every year, owes its presence to the insight of Saint Francis, the Patron Saint of Italy who has left a mark on the history of Christianity.
The memorandum of understanding signed between ENIT (Italian National Tourist Board) and the Diocese of Rieti aims to communicate this important cultural and tourist event of the Valle Santa Reatina (Sacred Valley of Rieti) abroad. This area, with Greccio at its center, is the ancient Reate, a former papal residence and the “Umbilicus Italiae” of Varro’s tradition: the heart of Italy, unique in terms of its scenic beauty and rich artistic heritage.
The tourism and cultural offering of our country is enriched by a proposal of absolute value and universal content that, thanks to ENIT, will be disseminated worldwide, also attracting “return tourism” from Italians residing abroad, who will have an additional reason to return to Italy and discover lesser-known but equally unmissable places.
During Christmas, in St. Peter’s Square and the Paul VI Audience Hall, there will be Nativity scenes dedicated to the night of Greccio in 1223 and to the message of Saint Francis, whose contemporary relevance is concretely witnessed by the Sanctuary of the Nativity scene. These works will be created following Pope Francis’ recent meeting with artists, thanks to their involvement and that of skilled workers. Art, therefore, becomes synonymous with beauty, harmony, dialogue, and unconventional language, allowing for strong and barrier-free communication to capture this historic moment that has been continuously renewed for 800 years.
A project that comes to life thanks to the organization of Fondaco Italia and will materialize with the contribution of partners (among the first to join are Almaviva, Orsoni, iGuzzini). An appeal is made to them to participate in order to create, today as then, that active community that allowed Saint Francis, with the collaboration of his friend Giovanni Velita, to create the first nativity scene.
Special thanks go to the institutional partners: the Lazio Region, Unindustria Roma, Roma Lazio Film Commission, and RAI Cultura for their media partnership.
One man, one insight, one Saint, special places, protagonists of a long path of celebrations from now until 2026, passing through the Jubilee of 2025, will culminate in the eighth centenary of the death of Saint Francis. Numerous initiatives will compose the program of the exhibition route and events of “The Valley of the First Nativity Scene,” a project conceived by the Diocese of Rieti and promoted since 2017 with the Province of San Bonaventura of the Franciscan Friars, the municipalities of Rieti and Greccio, and the collaboration of the Italian Association of Friends of the Nativity Scene. The first initiatives of the program under construction have already been launched: professional and amateur Nativity scene artists can unleash their creativity by participating in the 6th Contest of Nativity Scene Art, “The Nativity Scene as an Icon of the Incarnation” (registration deadline: September 15). The 6th Artistic Contest, “School and the Nativity Scene,” is dedicated to educational institutions of all levels (registration deadline: October 31). All works admitted to the competition will be exhibited in Rieti from November 25, 2023, to February 2, 2024, and evaluated by a committee. All information and updates on the project and the program of initiatives can be found on the website WWW.VALLEDELPRIMOPRESEPE.IT and dedicated social media channels.
Press release: https://www.enit.it/it/da-greccio-a-rieti-la-valle-del-primo-presepe
For more information, visit www.valledelprimopresepe.it.