Sister Perpetua McNulty has been overwhelmed by the number and quality of contributions to Thornhill Ministries’ second annual Crib Festival, which takes place at the old Thornhill Convent this weekend.
From noon today until 6pm on Sunday the building will become a beautiful exhibition space for dozens of nativity scenes created both by local Christians and collected from all parts of the world where the tradition still thrives.
“It grew naturally after last year’s festival,” explained Sister Perpetua.
“A couple of people said: ‘God, I heard you had a festival, if we’d known, we have 40 cribs.’
“People wanted to donate, and then someobdy said: ‘You, know, why don’t we donate some of our own?’
“That’s how it spread so I think, in terms of specifically created cribs for the festival we’ve got about 56.”
Sister Perpetua said she’s looking forward to throwing the doors of the old convent open over the weekend for a celebration of a Christian creative tradition that’s strong and well in Derry.
“This is only our second year doing it so people had only heard about it when it was nearly over last year.
“It has absolutely snowballed. It’s wonderful.”
“The crib tradition, as you know, began way back with Saint Francis, who was a wonderful saint and who said to his friars: ‘When you go out and preach use words if you have to but go out and lead by your example. He created the first crib in 1223.
“It’s amazing how many people collect cribs when they go away to other countries. There’s a selection inside and you’ll see how many different countries...people have a habit of picking up a small crib when they are away.”
The festival will include crèches from Japan, the Vatican, France, Zambia, Mexico as well as nativity scenes specially created for the event.
With their imagination, friends of Thornhill have created cribs .... out of glass, wood, paper, wool, ceramics, stones, metal, cake, flowers and so on.
An additional technological dimension is provided through Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality and this will appeal to the adult children as well as to those of school-going age!
A small number of creative decorative gifts, candles and religious Christmas cards will be available for sale.
This is also a fundraising event for the work of Thornhill Ministries and the team would be glad of any support offered.