Controversial nativity scene shocks at St. Joseph’s Oratory
With Christmas around the corner, Montreal’s St. Joseph’s Oratory’s nativity scene, complete with baby Jesus, Mary and Joseph, is taking centre stage.
But there’s something a little off about the scene meant to depict the birth of Christ — Joseph is taking a selfie and Mary is holding a Starbucks coffee cup and throwing up a peace sign.
It’s part of the oratory’s display of nativity scenes from around the world in its museum.
It also features the Three Wise Men arriving at the birth, complete with black sunglasses and Segways, their parcels at hand with their gifts for baby Jesus.
The oratory insists the scene isn’t making fun of the holy holiday, saying it was meant to make people smile.
“I’m not surprised in a certain way. We knew that this was something so contemporary that people could be offended,” said Chantal Turbide, the museum’s curator.
“Either they like it a lot and they laugh or it could be shocking for some people.”
She points out the goal is to show that religion can be fun — while also pointing out our modern flaws.
“It’s kind of a mirror; people see themselves. That’s what is maybe surprising or shocking,” Turbide mused.
“They have to see themselves and think about their habits or their society. It’s a universal subject — it’s the birth of a child represented in different ways.”
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The figurines are part of a permanent exhibition and have actually been at the oratory for the last two years.
“Some people are OK with, some maybe like a more traditional way to see the scene,” explained Danielle Decelles, spokesperson for the oratory.
More than 100 countries are represented in the exhibition.
“It’s a paradox because the tradition says that since the Middle Ages, since the start of the representation of the nativity, every region can represent Christ in their way,” Turbide told Global News.
“It’s not traditional, but it’s in the traditional way of representing it.”
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