30,000 Individual Pieces
Our Marian Library at the University of Dayton crèche collection has over 3,600 nativities. This figures to be well over 30,000 individual nativity pieces. Each year we loan out 8,000 or more pieces. So of course we receive some of them back broken. Most repairs involve gluing and touching up paint. Occasionally the pieces go totally missing, sadly usually baby Jesus or a lamb. Sometimes limbs and digits are gone, kings’ crowns or gifts are missing or animal horns and ears are broken off.
We recently had a beautiful 5 inch angel who was missing a hand and foot. These little angel pieces were thinner than a pencil. One of our volunteers, Louise, undertook the pain staking and tedious job of re-fabricating her hand and foot. Louise is meticulous and spent over 20 hours on this repair.
Watching her, it was evident that she was in the midst of a spiritual experience. She said prayers and had conversations with this little angel as one could hear her talking while working in the repair corner of our workshop. When all was said and done, the darling angel from a St. Peter’s Square, Bradford Exchange set was ready to join her companions in good condition. She now hangs from the basillica watching over the whole crèche, while Louise is forever connected to this nativity set, now her favorite!
This nativity will be part of the 2019 UD “Labor of Love” crèche exhibit, featuring favorites of our volunteers.