Did you know South Carolina’s largest nativity scene with life-size figures is right here in Greenville, SC? See the beautifully carved figures at Prince of Peace Catholic Church in Taylors through early February.
Christmas is centered around nativity scenes and for good reason, right? The birth of Christ is why Christmas is celebrated around the world and while there are many beautiful nativity scenes, the one at Prince of Peace Catholic Church in Taylors is incredibly unique because the figures in the nativity are all life-sized and carved by an expert woodworker in Germany.
The Great Nativity
The Great Nativity was revealed in 2021 after parishioners at Prince of Peace raised money through private donations to commission the pieces, which were carved by Johanne Albl of ALBL Oberammergau, who has been in the business of woodworking and sacred art in Germany since 1556.
There are 13 figures in total: the shepherd, Mary, Joseph, Baby Jesus, the camel, ox, donkey, three wise men, the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove, an angel, and a sheep.
The three wise men take awhile to reach the full nativity scene because, well, that’s how it was in the nativity story. They are gradually moved from the Narthex in the way back of the church to inside the church in the aisle to closer to the nativity throughout the Christmas season.
The biggest sculpture in the Great Nativity is the camel, weighing in at 1,600 pounds, which is actually more than most camels weigh in real life. You can’t climb on the camel (I asked).
About the Artist
Johanne Albl of ALBL Oberammergau carved the Great Nativity from polychrome Lindenwood. The set is the largest ever commissioned in the family’s history. They are also one of the world’s leading firms for sacred art and architecture.
The Albl family has been woodcarvers in Germany since the mid-1500s. They are currently in their 14th generation of artists and grew from a small village in the Bavarian Alps.
How to See the Great Nativity
The Great Nativity at Prince of Peace can be seen in the church anytime between 7 am and 7 pm every day, and will be up between Sunday, December 3, 2023 until February 2, 2024, the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple.
“Christmas is a busy time for everyone and if you want a moment of peace in the craziness of the holiday season, come to the biggest nativity in South Carolina so that we can all be reminded of the innocence of a child during this beautiful season of joy and peace,” said Father Christopher Smith, pastor at Prince of Peace Catholic Church.
Fun fact about nativity scenes: the first nativity scene is attributed to St. Francis of Assisi who was inspired by his trip to the Holy Land to create the scene of Jesus’ birth. The first nativity was in Greccio, Italy in 1223, which means that this very year, 2023, is the 800th anniversary of that very first nativity scene.
Visitors are asked to be respectful when viewing the nativity since the church is a place of worship. The public is welcome at any time to visit, and is warmly invited to a candlelight celebration of Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve or any of the Masses held at the Church
Prince of Peace Catholic Church
1209 Brush Creek Road, Taylors
Looking for more? See Live Nativities Near Greenville, SC