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b. The story of the origin of the Christmas crèche rests with St. Francis of Assisi.

St. Bonaventure tells the story like this. In the year 1223, St. Francis, a deacon, was visiting the town of Grecio to celebrate Christmas. Grecio was a small town built on a mountainside overlooking a beautiful valley. The people had cultivated the fertile area with vineyards. St. Francis realized that the chapel of the Franciscan hermitage would be too small to hold the congregation for Midnight Mass. So he found a niche in the rock near the town square and set up the altar. However, this Midnight Mass would be very special, unlike any other Midnight Mass. He prepared a manger, and brought hay, and an ox and an ass to the appointed place. The brethren were summoned, the people ran together, the forest resounded with their voices, and that venerable night was made glorious by many and brilliant lights and sonorous psalms of praise. (St. Bonaventure, in his Life of Saint Francis of Assisi)

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