The Nativity Scene In The Chapel


The history of the Christmas crib at Christ the King monastery

This crib all started when I asked my family, the Hillenbrands from Evansville, IN to donate a nice set of Fontanini statues from Italy to my former monastery in South Dakota,  Blue Cloud Abbey. This was around the turn of the century, early 2000.  I brought this set with me when I transferred by stability to Christ the King monastery in 2013. 

The statues all vary in heights, the tallest ones being about 18” high, and the shorter ones about 8 or 10 inches. They are made out of a type of resin and are pretty much unbreakable.

I built the crib set in our carpenter shop at Blue Cloud Abbey.  The rough, old, and worn wood adds a certain warmth and ruggedness to the crib.  The posts came from an old farm house porch they we tore down. The rest of the wood came from an old fence we had around the feed lot for our cattle. 

For the kings I made a winding, rocky road, about 6 ft. long and put the kings at the far end of this road.  As we get closer to the Feast of the 3 Kings, Epiphany, around Jan. 6th,  I move the Kings a little closer to the stable and manger during the days leading up to Epiphany.

There is an angel hanging from the ceiling on a nearly invisible fish line with a spot light on it.

Fr. Thomas Hillenbrand, OSB