Receiving a plenary indulgence by praying before a crib

In 2023 we celebrated the 800 years of the first crib which was prepared in Greccio by St Francis of Assisi. Such an event shows all of us the power of Christ’s incarnation amongst us.

Mother Church did not let this wonderful occasion passing by. In fact, Catholics who pray before a Nativity scene can obtain a plenary indulgence. The time frame for the receiving of this indulgence is from December 8, the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Mary till February 2, 2024 the feast of the Presentation in the Temple of Jesus Christ Our Lord. One is to pray before a Nativity scene in a Franciscan Church.

Regarding the plenary indulgence, the Conference of the Franciscan Family requested Pope Francis to approve this plenary indulgence. It said: 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.

The conditions for obtaining the plenary indulgence are detachment from all sin, even venial, sacramental confession, holy Communion, and prayer for the intentions of the pope. Sacramental confession and receiving the Eucharist can occur to about 20 days before or after the act performed to receive a plenary indulgence. It is proper that Communion and the prayer occur on the same day that the work is completed. One sacramental confession is sufficient for several plenary indulgences. Nevertheless, for each plenary indulgence one wishes to receive, a separate reception of the Eucharist and a separate prayer for the intentions of the Holy Father are required.

Let us pray before the Christmas Crib in a Franciscan Church with this prayer from our hearts to let the Nativity scene touches our hearts and change them in Christ’s incarnation.

Lord God, it was Your abundant love that gave existence to us. You are the basis of all relationships because You are love. Love is at the heart of the relationship that You have with the Holy Trinity. I laud and give You thanks for being the foundation of love and its ideal expression.

In the fullness of time, You have fulfilled Your promise of hope and salvation. You have sent Your Son, our Lord and Redeemer Jesus Christ, to save us from sin and death. In our poor state of broken humanity, the Word took on our lowly nature and became one of us. It is indeed a mystery beyond all human comprehension, and for this, we praise and magnify Your holy name.

God of all nations and peoples, you have shown your love to us since the beginning of time. When we most needed a Savior, You sent Your Son to be born of the Virgin Mary. He provides happiness, serenity, mercy, and love into our lives. As we eagerly celebrate the joyful season of Christmas, we lovingly set up this Nativity Scene. May we be reminded of the First Christmas in which Your Son was born of the Blessed Virgin and protected and watched over by the just man Joseph. May we be filled not just with nostalgia but with gratitude and humility for this wondrous remembrance of Your love.

Like the shepherds and the wise Kings, we gather before this Christmas Scene with a joyful yet solemn disposition. We behold the humility You have shown us. We behold the God who is with us – our loving Immanuel. We behold the love that knows no limits. We behold the Child who has shown us the serene yet powerful grandeur of His divinity and humanity.

Lord God, we ask You to bless everyone who visits this manger. As they meditate on the mystery of the Incarnation, may they be reminded of the humble birth of Jesus. May our hearts and thoughts be directed to Him, our Immanuel, and Messiah.

Through Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh, our Lord and Savior. Amen.

Fr Mario Attard OFM Cap