The Italian Cultural Foundation at Casa Belvedere in Staten Island, NY, is currently hosting “IL Presepio Della Solidarieta” – the New York Fire Department 9/11/01 Solidarity Creche, which will remain on display from December 7, 2018 to mid-January 2019.
In December 2001, an 18thCentury style, handcrafted, 120 piece, 16 foot wide, 7 feet tall, and 5 feet deep gift arrived from the Naples Italy Chamber of Commerce to the NYC Fire Department. “We are very proud to be the custodians of this extraordinary and symbolic ‘Presepio Della Solidarieta’ which we proudly display every year for the public to enjoy,” stated Gina Biancardi, the Founder and President of The Italian Cultural Foundation at Casa Belvedere.
The exhibit is particularly meaningful to Staten Islanders who tragically lost many New York firefighters and other civil servants on 9/11/01. I know many 9/11 victims’ family members who come every year simply to pay homage to their loved ones as they get very tearful viewing the beautiful display,” said Ms. Biancardi.
“What tugs at your heart are the figures of the Three Kings, who instead of bringing gifts of gold, incense, and myrrh, present Baby Jesus with three New York City firefighters’ helmets with the numbers 9, 11, and 01. It is very symbolic and a sight to see.
“We encourage the public to visit with family and friends and experience this magical and lovely crafted display firsthand,” said Marian Rodi, Executive Director of Programs at Casa Belvedere.
This handcrafted work of art was created by master artisans of the Campania Region of Italy and is consistent with techniques that date back to the 17thCentury. It is comprised of 120 handmade pieces including peasants to noblemen, the Holy Family, many animals typical of that time period, angels, a faux mountain, a stable and more. This Presepio is magnificently unique in that it not only tells the story of Christ’s Birth, but it also honors the fallen of the 9/11/01 tragedy in a heartfelt and meaningful way.
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Editor’s note: ISDA’s “12 Days” run from Dec. 14-Dec. 25 to promote Italian and Italian-American traditions, art, literature, stories and more. Per the Christian calendar, the actual 12 Days of Christmas are celebrated from Dec. 25 to Jan. 5.