A new nativity scene that has recently been unveiled at St. Peter's Square in the Vatican has attracted quite a lot of attention online already, but perhaps not of the kind its creators were hoping for.
As Reuters points out, the Vatican uses a different nativity scene each year, usually donated by towns or artists, with some of the previous scenes featuring elements such as "a broken boat representing the plight of refugees and a person visiting an inmate in a jail cell, symbolising charity".
This year's nativity scene made by students and teachers in Castelli, an Italian town famous for ceramics, includes an astronaut and "a character reminiscent of Darth Vader from Star Wars", and has apparently already garnered quite a few negative reviews from locals and social media users alike.
This year’s #Vatican Nativity scene, revealed tonight, comes from a town in the Abruzzi region of Italy famous for its ceramics. Its creators say it’s meant to have a contemporary and unconventional look influenced by ancient Greek, Sumerian and Egyptian art. Photo: @dibanezgut pic.twitter.com/ozEeaQWJ6r— Edward Pentin (@EdwardPentin) December 11, 2020
"With this global pandemic and everything else the Christian people, or anyone for that matter, was expecting a sign of rebirth," Alfredo Chiarelli, 65, who has been selling religious items in the square for 30 years, said as quoted by the media outlet. "It has confused and saddened a lot of people."
Many netizens also didn't seem to think highly of the display in question, some even suggesting that it should be taken down.
This is this year’s Vatican nativity scene and it needs to be destroyed. I’m not even kidding. A few men with sledgehammers should do the trick. We have to stop passively putting up with these insults to the faith and Catholic sensibilities. pic.twitter.com/H3XGVdHw6a— Lina O (@OneHeilanCoo) December 11, 2020
The Vatican nativity scene looks like a meth addicts garage sale. pic.twitter.com/F4W7gIHj05— Mohammed (@mohammedPBUH12) December 12, 2020
This monstrosity is the Vatican’s nativity scene. Nothing like ugly robot space aliens to undermine the beauty & humanity of the Holy Family at Christmas time, during a pandemic when we need our timeless Church traditions more than ever. Thanks, Pope Francis! pic.twitter.com/6YMSE4TbTy— Rachel Campos-Duffy (@RCamposDuffy) December 11, 2020
Just when you thought 2020 couldn't get any more depressing. Behold the new Vatican nativity scene. pic.twitter.com/obI8rrWFEg— Nell (@ItsGrammyNell) December 11, 2020
At least one netizen even wondered aloud whether the Pope is "just trolling Christianity".
And there were also those who started cracking jokes about what kind of nativity scene will be unveiled in the Vatican in 2021.