The Christmas crib
published on 13/11/2008 in Archive News-Events

Set up from the first Sunday of Advent (Saturday 29 November 2008) to the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple (Monday 2 February 2009), the cathedral crib takes place under the fence of the choir representing scenes from the childhood of Christ....


"I am
the light of the world. »
John 8, 12

Like every year, the Cathedral nursery is presented from the first Sunday of Advent (Saturday 29 November 2008) to the Feast of the Presentation at the Temple (Monday 2 February 2009). It is nearly two million pilgrims, faithful and visitors who will come to gather there during these two months.


The tradition of the nursery
Saint Francis of Assisi († 1226) was attributed to the creation of the first Nativity scene: This use spread rapidly to become, as nowadays, universal.
A Nativity scene presents the characters of the Nativity, such as the gospel narrative makes them known: the Child-Jesus, the Virgin Mary, Saint Joseph, the Angels, who sing the glory of the Redeemer and the peace given To men of goodwill, shepherds. The Ox and donkey belong to the tradition: their place appeared natural in a barn.
A few days after Christmas, during the Epiphany, the three Magi are added with the star guiding them: they represent the homage of kindness and his quest for salvation. Some cribs are simply the characters of the Nativity or include them in larger scenes that implement all the human categories as do the health.
For the believer, these figurative stagings are an incentive to make the feelings of the actors of the first moments of redemption his own, and to enter it for his part, through prayer.


I hope that the crèche, as important, not only of our faith, but also of Christian culture and art, continues to be part of this great solemnity: In the end, it is a simple and eloquent way of remembering Jesus who, by making himself a man , "came to live among us," and, with the manger, actually lives with us.
Benedict XVI
December 17, 2008


In the North ambulatory, the Closing of the choir Carried out in the 14th century represents The episodes of Christ's life related to the liturgical period of Christmas time :
-Nativity of Jesus and announcement to the Shepherds
-Adoration of the Magi
-Massacre of the Innocent
-Escape to Egypt
-Presentation at the Temple

It is at the foot of this incomparable altarpiece that naturally takes place the crèche of Notre-Dame de Paris.

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The crib of Notre-Dame

This year, Notre-Dame's crib focuses on the paradox of Christmas through the theme of light: this little child lying in a manger who is Christ, Lumina LumenLight born of Light, Light of Nations, light that gives life, light that transforms and transfigures those who are enlightened by it.

The advanced technique chosen by the company A travers, in charge of the project, combines video projections and traditional decor, integrating "Light" as a living material, and the structure of the crib itself. The purpose of this mixture is to open the perspectives of the crib to a contemporary reality beyond the cathedral enclosure, and to make it interactive with the historical evolution of the birth of Jesus Christ, while keeping the traditional foundations necessary for the landmarks of pilgrims and visitors.

Thus, the Holy Family is suspended among thousands of stars, with a sky of moving clouds on the horizon that let the sun filter through. Above it, the bas-relief frieze retracing the history of the nativity up to the presentation at the temple is also illuminated by a "living light" that runs along the features of the statues and animates the frozen scenes by its movement.

The aim here is not to saturate the frieze that speaks for itself with light effects, but rather to create the feeling of a luminous crossing born at the heart of the union of the Virgin, Saint Joseph and the Child Jesus, inspired by the Glory be to youthis radiant cloud, and spreading through the stars to settle on the sculpted frieze to animate its polychromy.

The presence of the cloud in the background once again opens the setting to a world outside the cathedral, symbolizing the Good News of Christ's birth spreading to humanity.

Finally, the starry sky brings to the stage an impression of floating, almost unreal, extending the Christmas decor to infinity.




At the foot of the nursery of the Cathedral is arranged a large transparent URN. Pilgrims, visitors, believers or not, all men of goodwill come from the four corners of the world and passing to the Notre Dame in this Christmas time are invited to inscribe a message of peace and put it in this URN. These messages are so many intentions prayed every night during the last mass of the day.


Some technical data in summary

- A nursery with a surface area of more than 30m².

- Each element of the statuary of the choir fence is separately illuminated and becomes vibrant with light.

- 5 video projectors for ultra-advanced digital animation, with a fully automated and synchronized projection system.

- 400 LED spots for the design of a bed of stars in which the santons of Notre-Dame seem to float

- Images of the sky, shot on the roof of the Cathedral projected on a 2 x 2 m transparent plexiglass screen, create a setting where the crib is suspended in the infinity of the sky.


Design and realization







26, rue Damrémont - PARIS XVIII°°.

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