This mechanical nativity crib is located at the Institue and Orphanage of Jesus of Nazareth in Żejtun. His Grace, the late Bishop Emmanuel Galea, then director of this Institute and Orphanage for hundreds of bereaved children, had the idea of constructing a sizeable crib, reminiscent of the Nativity of the Child Jesus. Built in 1947, after several weeks of dedicated work by the same Bishop Galea, the crib was inaugurated during Christmas of the same year. He had commissioned his nephew Paul Pavia to provide the mechanical works, thus bringing the figures to 'life'. Paul toiled on these figures for several months with great skill and dedication, ensuring that each figure performed the movement required of it. The Institute's sisters sewed the robes for each figure. Work on this crib lasted several years after its inauguration, until it took its present form.
The scenes of this Nativity Crib represent the five Joyful Mysteries of the Holy Rosary. The scene of Angel Gabriel announcing the birth of Jesus to the Virgin Mary is displayed in the forefront of the left window, whereas in the background Our Lady is depicted meeting her cousin Elizabeth. Through the main window in the centre, one can admire the graceful scene of the birth of Jesus in a grotto in Bethlehem, while the three Wise Men and several shepherds adore the newly born Divine Child. The third window opens upon the scene of the presentation of the Child Jesus in the temple of Jerusalem. Finally, Joseph and Mary holding her child in her arms are depicted fleeing to Egypt on a donkey.
This unique crib attracts the admiration of hundreds of visitors, school children as well as tourists who, year after year return to learn from it and enjoy its beauty. It is with the encouragement of these visits that this crib is kept 'alive'. hence we invite you to come and visit and bring along your friends to admire this 'living' treasure bequeathed to us by Bishop Emmanuel Galea.
Author: Joseph Pavia
Music composed by: Mro. Ray Sciberras FLCM