Christmas Crèche Exhibit Sets Stage for McGrath Institute’s Campus Pilgrimage

By William Schmitt

Crèche Pilgrimage Notre DameCrèche Pilgrimage Notre Dame

Members of the Notre Dame community, as well as families and individuals from the surrounding area, are invited to a Christmas season tradition—the fifth annual International Crèche Exhibit and Pilgrimage taking place on campus Sunday, Dec. 2, 2018, at 2 p.m.

Participants in the pilgrimage, sponsored by the McGrath Institute for Church Life, will visit distinctive nativity scenes displayed in several University buildings. This year, some 30 crèches—beautiful art with theological and cultural significance—will represent countries throughout Eastern Europe. Information on the artist’s style and interpretation will accompany each one.

While the display will be in place for several weeks, walking and viewing during the free-of-charge celebration will be enhanced by prayer, music and a blessing of Jesus figurines brought from crèches at home.

“Images of Jesus’ nativity remind us that God has made our world his home,” said John Cavadini, Director of the McGrath Institute for Church Life.

Parents attending the event, which begins in the Eck Visitors Center and concludes in the Main Building, are invited to bring their young children and, if they wish, dress them as figures from the Gospel stories of the Nativity. 

“These crèches speak to people across various age groups, and they resonate with people wherever they are in their faith journeys, as works of art or devotional objects,” said Carolyn Pirtle, organizer of the exhibit and program director in the Institute’s Notre Dame Center for Liturgy. She also noted the event’s good fit with the mission to share academic insights beyond the campus, embracing the importance of Mary and the Incarnation of Jesus.

Every Christmas season, the Marian Library at the University of Dayton makes available on loan items from its large collection of nativity scenes. Created using many different materials, this year’s compelling exhibit reflects the Catholic Church’s faith and culture in eastern European countries. 

No advance registration is required to celebrate this tradition. The event will conclude by 3:30 p.m. Find more information here at