Hong Kong – A nativity scene in times of pandemic

20 January 2021

(ANS - Hong Kong) - Salesian Brother Paul Li, 85, Economer of the Salesian Missionary House in Hong Kong, is also known for his ability to decorate Salesian churches and houses on the occasion of various holidays. For Christmas 2020 he created a very current pandemic-themed nativity scene.

How was this passion for decorations born?

When there is a Solemnity or a Feast Day, Don Bosco is very concerned about the decorations of the Church and the schools. And we all know Christmas is also a big celebration for the universal Church. Among all the varieties of decorations, I am especially interested in making the Christmas Crib, ever since I was a student. As a Salesian Brother, I have always invited my students to assist me in the Crib preparation: in my view, making a Christmas crib is a way to educate and accompany young people.

How did the work for the 2020 nativity scene go?

I shared my idea with my former students. I wanted to make a frame in the ceiling and hang something. So my students helped me to calculate. We finally used 70 wooden frames. There is a group of past pupils, my former students, who have been working with me already for many years on the Christmas crib. From their school time, graduation until now, I'm still in touch with them.

And what about the materials?

The Alumni prepared all the materials for the Crib, mostly with recycled materials. The wood blocks are old, as for the light bulbs, they were a gift from a past pupil, who donated us some 10,000 small light bulbs. Then, for the masks, some people might think it's a waste, but they were obtained at the beginning of the epidemic, and are extremely thin and of low quality, cannot be used as protection against the virus. Now it's just a matter of making the best use of them by hanging them from the ceiling as decoration.

How did you finalize the theme and concept of this year's Crib?

Since the Covid-19 pandemic was raging, I thought of using the outbreak as our theme. But how should we demonstrate it? There are several symbols related to the pandemic: masks, wheelchairs, hospital beds or nurses.

And what is the spiritual motivation?

I was inspired by the Gospel reading that speaks of the paralyzed man lowered from the roof because of the crowd (Lk 5:18-19).

Can you describe the entire composition?

We started from this idea of ​​lowering the sick bed from above, in the hope that Jesus would heal the sick of this pandemic. Then there are 70 light slots, each with six masks and 40 small bulbs on each frame. Inide the small garden there is a statue of the Virgin Mary, it's the Pietà, Our Lady of Sorrows. In the front, a stone plaque with three letters "R.I.P." (Rest in Peace) at the middle, and the American flag, as the United States has the highest death toll from the disease.

And what is your prayer in front of this crib?

Simply: "Lord, do not hesitate, please come and save us!".


ANS - “Agenzia iNfo Salesiana” is a on-line almost daily publication, the communication agency of the Salesian Congregation enrolled in the Press Register of the Tibunal of Rome as n 153/2007.

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