A Catholic Monthly Magazine

The Nativity

This month’s cover is detail of a Retablo from the Peruvian Andes. These works of art trace their origin back to colonial times, when missionaries would travel the Andean sierra carrying ‘altars’ containing images of the saints. These boxes were crafted with folding doors that opened to reveal the saint’s image and relic within. They could be carried on horseback and set up wherever the missionary arrived. 

Last century Andean craftsmen and women began to fashion their own retablos, depicting scenes from their villages. You’ll note that in this retablo of the Nativity of Jesus, the figures have indigenous features and are dressed in the typical dress of inhabitants of the Peruvian sierra. In a twist Mary, Joseph and the shepherds wear masks so as not to infect the baby Jesus with Covid.


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