The origin of the Nativity scene
The young Saint Francis felt a vocation to dedicate his life to the teachings of Jesus. The glorification of Jesus' birth was important to him, so 3 years before his death, in 1223, he asked the Pope for permission to create a solemn memorial to the birth of Jesus. He created the first such monument in the Italian town of Greccio, motivated by the Gospels of St.Matthew and St. Luke. He set up a manger in which he placed a carved wooden baby Jesus, with an ox and an ass (the original function of the manger was to feed larger animals). He invited his fellow monks, friends and local residents to the manger to commemorate the birth of Jesus with a solemn mass . Everyone was very happy with the celebration. This event was also attended by a friend of Saint Francis, the Knight John of Greccio, who, during the ceremony, had a vision of a real, living child sleeping in the manger. He also sensed that when Saint Francis took the baby in his arms, Jesus woke up for a moment.
The people of the area were at first apprehensive about the event, but they gave hay to put in the manger, and later, when Saint Francis gave it back to them, they found it to be healing.
This is the origin of the Nativity scene, which has become a tradition nearly 800 years old.
According to the Gospels of St.Matthew and St.Luke, at the birth of the infant Jesus in Bethlehem, he was visited at the manger by shepherds and the Three Wise Men. These Three Wise Men set out from the sunrise and a star led them to the place where Jesus was born. They brought gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. This has given rise to the custom of giving gifts to each other on the feast of the birth of Our lord Jesus.