Castle Gallery at The College of New RochelleCastle Gallery at The College of New Rochelle

Selections from the Kate Canty Creche Collection

The Kate Canty Creche Collection will be on display at the Castle Gallery from December 2, 2012, through January 6, 2013, featuring unique nativity scenes compiled by Eileen Canty SAS’55 and her husband, Jim, from their world travels over the past two decades. The collection was donated to The College in the name of their daughter, Kate.

We know neither the exact day nor year when Christ was born but the birth of the Virgin Mother’s only son became a seminal event for believers and non-believers. The nativity has become the most frequently depicted event in the world. Early images of Christ’s birth were found as early as the 4th century. Scenes with individual figures were introduced in the 13th century in Italy, giving worshippers who would never get to Bethlehem a vision of what it might have been like.

Use of the nativity spread throughout the churches of Europe and in 1640, made its way into the New World. The Ursulines of Quebec made a creche at the request of a Jesuit missionary. By the 18th century, creches began to appear in homes as well as in churches.

The nativity items in the collection have been donated from one of the largest, and reputedly finest, private collections in the country. They reflect the work of artists and craftspeople worldwide. Few are in the classical mode but they all show the central story of Mary, Joseph and the Christ Child. Different traditions exist in different cultures as to whom and what are included, how the figures are dressed, what animals are present, and what gifts the Magi bring.

The diversity of media — wood and clay, straw and metal, glass and precious gems, seashells and seed pods, beads, feathers, flowers, paint, canvas, fabric, mosaic, and recycled materials — remind us of the innate value of all of God’s creature just as the creche reminds us of God’s love for His creations. With infinite love, mercy and forgiveness, the son of the Virgin Mother became man for us.

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