Pope Francis wears a face mask during ceremony in Rome
Addressing listeners from a window overlooking the square, Pope Francis also hit out at consumerism, which he said has “kidnapped Christmas”. The statement was part of the Pope’s last Sunday blessing and address before Christmas.
Analysts have lined up to comment on the Vatican’s unusual nativity scene this year.
The scene has caused debate about what exactly is depicted – but one figure appears to be an astronaut holding a moon in its hands. Another seems to be holding a spear and a shield.
Christian news outlet the Catholic Herald has blasted the nativity scene as an “embarrassing sci-fi creche”.
Pope Francis made his comments during an address on Sunday
One of its authors wrote: “This year’s Vatican creche has been laughed at and ridiculed for looking like a science fiction story or children’s toys.
“One figure was often described as looking like Darth Vader, though to me he looks more like a Sontaran from Doctor Who.”
The scene was reportedly made by teachers and students between the years of 1965 and 1975 in the Italian town of Castelli.
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Pope Francis has spoken out against consumerism in the run-up to Christmas
A nativity scene is typically a model representing the occasion of the birth of Jesus Christ.
As such the Three Wise Men may be depicted, while models of farm animals can also be present.
In yesterday’s address, the Pope reportedly made no mention of the unusual nativity scene present in St Peter’s Square.
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Part of the controversial nativity scene in the Vatican’s St Peter’s Square
Instead of mentioning the nativity scene in the square, he directed people to visit another outdoor exhibit – the “100 Nativity Scenes” display – placed under the square’s colonnade.
The Pope said, according to Vatican News: “I invite you to visit the Nativity scenes under the colonnade, in order to understand how people seek through art to show how Jesus was born.
“The crèches under the colonnade are a great catechesis in our faith.”
Pope Francis directed people to look at the Vatican’s ‘100 Nativity Scenes’ exhibition, one of which is pictured
The Vatican’s 100 Nativity Scenes exhibition opened to visitors on December 13, and can be viewed until January 10 2021.
Pope Francis also hit out at consumerism, stating: “There is no consumerism in the manger in Bethlehem. What is there is reality, poverty and love.”
He also urged followers to reach out to people in need and avoid buying “the umpteenth gift” for themselves and friends.
Pope Francis is due to hold a Christmas Eve mass earlier than usual amid Italy’s Covid-19 curfew
The Pope said: “Instead of complaining in these difficult times about what the pandemic prevents us from doing, let us do something for someone who has less.
“not the umpteenth gift for ourselves and our friends, but for a person in need whom no-one thinks of!”
Last week, it was revealed Pope Francis would hold his Christmas Eve Mass two hours earlier than usual in order to allow attendees to return home before Italy’s 10 pm Covid-19 curfew comes into force.
It is understood that in-person attendance will be limited in any case in order to prevent virus spread.
Last month the Pope hit out at Governments that prioritised their economies over coronavirus restrictions.
In a new book, Let Us Dream: A Path to a Better Future, he said: “These governments have mortgaged their people,” according to The Guardian.