The completion of the Nativity of Mercy for the Church of the Most Precious Blood is in New York provided us with the opportunity to convey and interpret the views of our Neapolitan crib. It showcases Naples as the center of world for traditional crib making and is among the most effective tools to describe the eternal contradictions of humanity. Men is always looking for redemption on his tortuous journey that takes place every year until the advent of hope arrives with the birth of Christ Jesus.
Our idea of the traditional crib making keeps itself open to be influenced by today’s realities in full harmony with what the great masters of the eighteenth century accomplished – modelling by watching their contemporary world.
The American commission has granted us permission to create a piece of art that represents today’s reality expressed in the incomparable eighteenth-century style. The Nativity of Mercy reflects Pope Francis’ embrace of the seven principles of mercy towards the poor and the meek. This subject matter had us create each character with great passion from the most traditional figure to the most controversial. As is the case with subjects inspired by the painting The Return of the Prodigal Son by Rembrandt and especially, with Caravaggio’s Seven Acts of Mercy
Each character in the Nativity of Mercy tells a little story, every detail leads to deeper meanings, as if, paradoxically, nothing is unintentional in this great chaos, because in the end everything in life has its order. The Nativity is located high up in the scenery close to the center with the devil just below in chains annihilated by the birth of baby Jesus. The narrative of this crib is about facing opposites. Good and evil, peace and war, love and hatred all live in close quarters. It alludes to the conflict which in the end can only be rectified with the birth of the Redeemer.
We would like to thank Monsignor Donald Sakano for having complete confidence in our abilities and the vision to make this project happen, and Mr. Thomas Smith, project manager, who ably maximized all efforts and successfully overcame every difficulty.
This project was an exciting challenge that absorbed everyones energies and sparked great enthusiasm in the participating artisans – sculptures to painters and seamstresses to set designer. We applaud the set designer, who created such harmony among all seventy figures. We are proud to have contributed to the sharing of our knowledge of Neapolitan cribs, through our work, in America. We are confident that the messages contained in this beautiful crib will be fully understood by everyone, because Naples, even in its most traditional ways, speaks always to the world.
(translated by Sabine Collins)