4. Animals? Some believe they were there but the Bible doesn’t mention them. So, why are they included in most Nativity Scenes?
· The birth occurred where animals were stalled and protected.
· The very first nativity scene included them.
St. Francis of Assisi, who is credited with staging the first nativity scene in 1223. The only historical account we have of Francis’ nativity scene comes from The Life of St. Francis of Assisi by St. Bonaventure, a Franciscan monk who was born five years before Francis’ death.
According to Bonaventure’s biography, St. Francis got permission from Pope Honorious III to set up a manger with hay and two live animals—an ox and a donkey—in a cave in the Italian village of Grecio. He then invited the villagers to come gaze upon the scene while he preached about “the babe of Bethlehem.” (Smithsonian Magazine)