Digital Advent + Christmas Crèche Calendar

In 2014, the McGrath Institute for Church Life began partnering with the Marian Library at the University of Dayton, bringing to Notre Dame’s campus an exhibit of crèches, or Nativity scenes, from around the world.

Since 2020, we have shared this sacred art in a different way, through our digital Advent and Christmas Crèche Calendar—a beautiful selection including crèches, or Nativity scenes, from our previous six exhibits, as well as crèches never before seen on the Notre Dame campus.

Our calendar begins on the First Sunday of Advent and concludes on the feast of the Baptism of the Lord. Once you sign up, you will receive a daily email with an image of a crèche from a different part of the world, accompanied by a reflective description and a brief prayer.

2023 marks the 800th anniversary of St. Francis of Assisi staging what is often credited as the first crèche. This year, allow this beautiful tradition of devotional art to enrich your experience of Advent and Christmas.

Click here if you’d like to receive our daily crèche emails.

”Images of Jesus’ nativity remind us that God has made our world his home.”

-John Cavadini

Here's a glimpse of what you'll receive with each email.

Silent Night

The monochromatic figures in this crèche speak to a simplicity of spirit, while the details of body language and facial expressions speak to a joyfulness of heart. Many of the figures have smiles on their faces: Mary, the shepherd on the left, the wise man on the right. There is a lilting dynamism in this crèche. All of the standing figures are bent on a graceful diagonal: from the tilt of their heads to the sweep of their garments, all are inclined toward the newborn King. In turn, from his manger bed, the Christ-Child reaches as far as his infant arms will go, eager to embrace not only those who surround him with love and adoration, but the entire world. May we incline our hearts toward him this season and always, and allow him to embrace us with the fullness of his love.

Image courtesy of The Marian Library (Dayton, Ohio); used with permission. Description text by Carolyn Pirtle; ©McGrath Institute for Church Life, 2021.