How to Obtain a Special Plenary Indulgence by Praying before a Nativity Scene or Creche from Dec.8th until Feb. 2nd

One of the first items to appear in our homes, churches, schools and workplaces as Christmas approaches is a Christmas nativity scene, often in the form of a crib, nativity or creche. This year, 2023, the Franciscans are celebrating the 800th Anniversary of the Christmas at Greccio where the Nativity scene began. Pope Francis granted a Plenary indulgence for those who pray before a Nativity, at a Franciscan Church or Chapel, from Dec. 8 until Feb. 2nd.
The Nativity scene now recreated in city squares and churches worldwide was originally conceived by St.Francis of Assisi. However, nativity scenes have been found in early Christian catacombs in Rome and can be traced to AD. 380. It is more accurate to say that Francis popularised the first LIVE Christmas creche, for Francis loved Christmas. Thomas of Celano, the earliest biographer of St Francis of Assisi wrote: ‘the birthday of the Child Jesus Francis observed with inexpressible eagerness over all other feasts, saying that it was the feast of feasts, on which God, having become a tiny infant, clung to human breasts’ (2 Celano, 199). In 1223 Francis wanted to celebrate Christmas in a special way.
It was December of 1223. Francis and some of the Brothers were staying near the little village of Greccio in the Rieti Valley, Italy. Celano, the first biographer of Francis, provides an account:
Blessed Francis had John summoned to him some fifteen days prior to the birthday of the Lord. “If you desire to celebrate the coming feast of the Lord together at Greccio,” he said to him, “hurry before me and carefully make ready the things I tell you. For I wish to enact the memory of that babe who was born in Bethlehem: to see as much as possible with my own bodily eyes the discomfort of his infant needs, how he lay in a manger, and how, with an ox and an ass standing by, he rested in hay.” Once the good and faithful man had heard Francis’ words, he ran quickly and prepared in that place all the things the holy man had requested.l. Francis of Volume l. The Saint. pp 254-255
In a dramatic reenactment of the events of Bethlehem, St. Francis celebrated God’s great love, a love
made concrete in a little child wrapped in swaddling clothes.
How to Obtain the Indulgence:
The Franciscans addressed the following petition to the Holy Father: "in order to promote the spiritual renewal of the faithful and increase the life of grace, we ask that the faithful receive a plenary indulgence under the usual conditions from 8 December 2023, the Solemnity of Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, to 2 February 2024, Feast of the Presentation in the Temple of Our Lord Jesus Christ, by visiting the churches run by Franciscan families throughout the world and stopping in prayer in front of the nativity scenes set up there. Likewise, those who are sick or unable to participate physically can equally benefit from the gift of plenary indulgence, offering their sufferings to the Lord or carrying out pratices of piety." The Apostolic Penitentiary favorably welcomed the request, granting the right to announce it publicly. Therefore, in all the churches entrusted to us for pastoral care, it will be possible for all the faithful to receive a plenary indulgence, under the usual conditions, from 8 December 2023 to 2 February 2024. We ask you to share this "privilege" in all our locations which fits in well with the special relationship that was established between Saint Francis and the Church when he asked the Pope for the Indulgence for those who visited the Porziuncola; and we hope that it will be an opportunity for communion and spiritual renewal for every brother and sister in the entire Franciscan family.
7 Ways to LIVE the GIFT of the Nativity
As you stand, kneel or sit before your creche, remember Francis’ living nativity in 1223 provided the impetus for a refreshing new way to understand the Incarnation.
1. Take time to reflect upon the following:“God so love the world that he came as a child.” John 3:16
God first loved us. We have always been part of the divine plan.
2. Jesus is born into the reality of our lives – everyday.
3. God wants to share in our lives and we come to share the Good News with others with “sweetness upon lips.
4. Jesus gives us his name. We are Christians and members of his (Jesus’) family.
5. Jesus asks us to hold him in love.
6. Jesus will judge us in love.
7. We come to serve. In serving we birth Jesus to our world.
God, bless all who gaze upon this nativity scene.
As we look at this Holy Family, let us pray for all
families—those we know, and those we do not;
those who live on the other side of the world, and
those who live on the other side of the street. Let us
recognize and rejoice in the great diversity of the
one family of God as we reflect on and give thanks
for those diverse gifts present in our own family.
We pray this through Christ our Lord. Amen
The Word became flesh and dwelt among us! Blessed are
you Father, for sending your Son into our world.
I ask you to bless this Christmas crib which has been
prepared in your honour.
As I celebrate the birth of Jesus, may I rejoice in your
goodness and love for me and all of creation. I ask this
through Christ our Lord. Amen.
6 Regular Conditions Necessary for obtaining indulgences:
1. Only one plenary indulgence can be granted per day.
2. It is necessary to be in the state of grace, at least by completion of the work.
3. Freedom from attachment to sin, even venial sin, is necessary; otherwise the indulgence is only partial. (By this is meant attachment to a particular sin, not sin in general.)
4. Holy Communion must be received each time the indulgence is sought.
5. Prayers must he recited for the intentions of the Holy Father on each day the indulgence is sought. (No particular prayers are prescribed. One Our Father and one Hail Mary suffice, or other suitable prayers.
6. A sacramental concession must he made within a week of completion of the prescribed work. (One confession made during the week, made with the intention of gaining all the indulgences, suffices.)