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Franciscan Monks Create Nativity Of Jesus In A Crib Of Bullet Shells

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Joshua Gill Religion Reporter
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Franciscan monks in Italy placed baby Jesus in a bed of bullets for their yearly “provocation” nativity to honor Catholics martyred for faith since 2000.

The monks, who follow the tradition of St. Francis of Assisi, the inventor of the Nativity display, used 445 bullet casings for baby Jesus’ bed to symbolize the 445 Catholic clergy and laypersons who have been martyred for their beliefs around the world since the year 2000, according to Reuters. The monks craft a different “provocation” nativity each year to call for peace around the world and place it outside the Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi, the saint’s final resting place. (RELATED: Chinese Vicar Tortured Nearly To Death For Refusal To Plead Guilty)

“People of peace, people of dialogue are killed, tortured and massacred for peace because they want to change the unjust systems in many societies,” Father Enzo Fortunato, senior monk at the basilica, told Reuters.

The monks have used the “provocation” nativity display in past years to honor specific groups who suffered in recent tragedies. They constructed their 2016 nativity with stones from the Basilica of St. Benedict in Norcia, which collapsed and killed 300 people during an earthquake that year. The monks crafted the 2015 manger from the pieces of a boat that migrants used to cross the Mediterranean and enter Europe, a passage that has claimed the lives of more than 14,000 since 2014.

The migrant themed nativity message drew condemnation from an Italian bishop in 2017 when the mayor of the Italian town of Castenaso replicated it by commissioning a nativity scene with Mary and Jesus in a migrant dinghy.

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