Vatican 'Darth Vader' Nativity scene lampooned

Nativity scene in St Peter's Square sparks widespread criticism.

The Vatican's unconventional Nativity scene in St Peter's Square has provoked a wave of criticism in the press and has been ridiculed widely on social media over the last few days.

The ceramic scene was made by students and teachers at an art school in Castelli, in Italy's central Abruzzo region, and its collection of figures was added to over a decade, from 1965 to 1975.

There are 54 statues in total, all cylindrical, and the artists were inspired by - among other things - man setting foot on the moon.

Vatican observers, traditionalists and even art critics have been tripping over themselves to slam this year's crib scene however.

There is particular wrath reserved for a figure in a helmet which has been likened to Darth Vader from Star Wars, with some even suggesting its appearance verges on "satanic."

The inclusion of an astronaut has also gone down like a lead balloon among critics, many of whom have found themselves upset by Mary's blonde ringlets.

Perhaps the most scathing criticism comes from the Catholic Herald which describes the scene as "comically awful" in an article titled The Vatican’s Embarrassing SciFi Creche.

“The misshapen figures in the Nativity scene lack all the grace, proportion, vulnerability, and luminosity that one looks for in the manger scene," art historian Elizabeth Lev told Breitbart News.

Reuters observed wryly that, based on the tsunami of terrible reviews, if the futuristic creche "were a Broadway play, it probably would have closed on opening night."

Even Vatican News was not exactly defensive of the much-maligned Nativity scene, writing: "One particular figure, which has been described by some as “astronaut-like” has raised numerous questions, as it is not made clear who or what it is representing."

The Times honed in on comments on social media that suggest the figures are like something out of "Wallace and Gromit," or that the scene resembles “a meth addict’s garage sale.”

Those who find the Nativity scene hugely original or a breath of fresh air have been drowned out by a sea of slurs ever since it was unveiled on 11 December.

Italian art critic Vittorio Sgarbi has advised people not to bother going to see the crib scene which he described as "an obscenity."

Those who prefer to disregard Sgarbi's advice and make up their own minds can see the Nativity scene on display in St Peter's until 10 January 2021.

While there, take the time to visit the annual 100 Presepi exhibition, under the colonnade of Piazza S. Pietro this year due to covid-19 regulations.

There is always a great variety of Christmas cribs - from traditional to imaginative - with something to please all tastes.

Cover photo Vatican News

General Info

Address Piazza San Pietro, Città del Vaticano, Vatican City

View on Map

Vatican 'Darth Vader' Nativity scene lampooned

Piazza San Pietro, Città del Vaticano, Vatican City