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

Kate Canty Creche Collection

The nativity items in The College of New Rochelle’s Kate Canty Creche Collection have been donated from one of the largest and finest private collections in the country, reflecting the work of artists and craftspeople from around the world.

Few are in the classical mode, but all show the central story of Mary, Joseph, and the Christ Child. The characters and animals included, how the figures are dressed, and the gifts the Magi bring reflect the culture and tradition each piece comes from. The media used are equally diverse, including wood and clay, straw and metal, glass and precious gems, seashells and seed pods, beads, feathers, flowers, paint, canvas, fabric, mosaic, and recycled materials.

The nativity is the most frequently depicted event in the world, with images of Christ’s birth having been found as early as the 4th century. Scenes with individual figures were introduced in Italy in the 13th century, giving worshippers a vision of what it might have been like. Use of the nativity spread throughout the churches of Europe, and came to the New World in 1640. The Ursulines of Quebec made a creche at the request of a Jesuit missionary. Creches began to appear in homes by the 18th century.

The College of New Rochelle and the Castle Gallery thank Jim and Eileen Canty SAS’55, who have collected the nativity scenes while traveling the world over the past two decades, and donated the collection in the name of their daughter.

Below is a video of selections from the collection set to music performed by the Holy Family Chapel Choir.

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