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More than 300 Nativity scenes on display in Lewiston

Our Lady of Fatima Shrine in Lewiston, in its Fatima Hall, is displaying hundreds of manger scenes from all over the world.

LEWISTON, N.Y. — A new spot this year for an awe-inspiring collection of creches, or nativity sets. Our Lady of Fatima Shrine in Lewiston, in their Fatima Hall, is displaying hundreds of manger scenes from all over the world.

They are owned by Father Roy Herberger, who recently retired from Saints Columba-Brigid Church in Buffalo.

He started displaying his collection there when it he had just a dozen or so.

"And then it just grew more and more and and I could see how it touched people how it really said this brings a joy to myself especially during the Christmas season that sometimes it's just missing this whole lacking with the commercialism," Father Roy said.

It's amazing to see this pivotal moment in the Christian faith portrayed in so many different ways.

"If I was an artist and Christ came for me well, but Mom and Dad look like him in Africa, or here in Venezuela, or over in Hong Kong. And so we tried to show how artists would depict that great mystery and that blessing of Christ coming into the world, you know, to touch allies of every person," Father Roy said. 

Some of them are powerful and some of them are humorous.

"Yeah, we go from the sublime to the ridiculous," Father Roy said.

Creches made from banana leaves, from newspapers, from Coca-Cola cans, volcanic ash, grains of rice. There is a Star Wars themed set. And a hipster manger, complete with Joseph taking a selfie and wise men on Segways bearing Amazon boxes.

For obvious reasons I liked the Irish nativity set, with wise leprechauns bringing the traditional gifts of gold, rainbows, and a sack of potatoes.

Amazingly this is only about half of it. Over 300 on display here, but about 33 more sets are in storage.

Father Roy is hoping for a permanent home for his collection.

It is free to come and see in Niagara County, where there is no mask mandate.

The remaining days and times at the Our lady of Fatima Shrine are the next two Fridays from 5-9 p.m.,the next two Saturdays and Sunday noon-9.

Also Dec. 20 thru 23, and 27 through the 30, from 5-9 p.m.

In a world with too much division and derision, this is a much needed reminder for families.

"We're all connected. We're all united somehow, because of that event that happened, you know, a couple 1,000 years ago. And we have to remember that we're all brothers and sisters, no matter what the color of our skin no matter what religion you know that we use, worship, but a recognition of an almighty that loves us so much," Father Roy said.