Why the belen is better symbol of Christmas | Inquirer News

Why the belen is better symbol of Christmas

/ 09:23 AM December 12, 2011

There is no better symbol of Christmas than the “belen.”

Depicting the nativity scene of Jesus Christ in Bethlehem, the belen would remind everyone, especially the poor and the less fortunate, about God’s begotten son who took the form of a slave to redeem humanity, said renowned iconographer Louie Nacorda.

Nacorda lent a set of his belen collections which he displayed at the Cathedral Museum of Cebu in downtown Cebu City.


He said characters in the nativity scene were ordered from Paete, Laguna 30 years ago.


Nacorda had them refurbished before he arranged them on top of a table which featured a cave with Christmas trees on both sides.

Inside the cave was the Holy Family composed of Joseph, Mary, and the infant Jesus.

Kneeling beside the baby Jesus were two angels accompanied by a huge angel in the center.

At the right side of the cave were the statues of three shepherds while the three magis or kings were found in the opposite side.

To add a Filipino flavor to the beautiful nativity scene, Nacorda placed a statue of  an old man wearing a barong Tagalog at the main entrance of the cave.

A lighted star was placed on top of the cave while yellow Christmas lights were scattered in and around the belen.


Why is there a need to put up a belen in one’s homes?

Nacorda quoted Pope Benedict XVI who encouraged the faithful to contemplate the mystery of Christ’s incarnation through the belen.

“To set up the crib at home can be a simple but effective way of presenting the faith and transmitting it to one’s children. The manger helps us to contemplate the mystery of God’s love who revealed himself in the poverty and simplicity of the Bethlehem cave,” the Pope said.

“The crib can help us, in fact, to understand the secret of the true Christmas, because it speaks of humility and the merciful goodness of Christ, who “though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor,” he added.

Sometime in 352-366, Nacorda said Pope Liberius had the idea of laying the consecrated host in a manger.

Nacorda said St. Francis of Assisi eventually introduced the creation of the statue of a baby Jesus.

However, all other other characters in the belen then were composed of actual people.

Nacorda believes that the belen was introduced to the Filipinos by the Spaniards in 1565.

Next year, Nacorda plans to add more characters in his belen.

He said he will display the images of an elephant, horse, and camel which he believed were the animals used by the three magis in travelling to Bethlehem.

Based on his research, Nacorda said the three wise men came from Africa, Europe (particularly in Spain), and Arabia.

Except for Arabs who uses camels as mode of transportation, Nacorda said Africans tradionally have elephants to ride on while Spaniards uses horses.

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Nacorda’s belen was blessed by Msgr. Carlito Puno, chairman of the Heritage Commission of the Archdiocese, after Nacorda made his speech yesterday afternoon. /Ador Vincent S. Mayol, Reporter

TAGS: belen, Christmas, Holidays, Paskong pinoy, Religion

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