Peace Be with You

Peace Be with You

A photo essay. To view all 23 images, check out the email edition.

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It’s Black Friday, so the perennial war for your favor and wallet has already begun.

Not at the Michael McGivney Center, though. Here, in one of the city’s most grand and graceful Brutalist fortresses, lies the peace the season is meant to stand for, embodied by the story of a diverse group of people drawn to a manger one silent night.

Rendered in wood, metal, ceramic, glass, seashell and much more, both as fine and folk art, those people now congregate, over and over, among the Center’s annual crèche displays, shared this season between two exhibitions: Christmas in the Americas and Celebrating 800 Years of the Crèche. The first show, set within a scaled-up red poinsettia motif, highlights diverse takes on the crèche from what was once the New World. The second, set within faux stone and cave walls, highlights the inventor of the crèche tradition, St. Francis of Assisi, with embedded ‘stone’ tablets telling the story of that invention among a curated set of nativity scenes.

Owned and operated by the Knights of Columbus, the Catholic fraternal organization McGivney founded in New Haven in 1882, the Center, open to the public Wednesday through Sunday from 10 to 4, is steeped in sincerity and reverence—enough to deliver tranquility even when other visitors are near, and enough to serve up an increasingly precious side of the season whether you’re Catholic, Christian or neither.

Written and photographed by Dan Mims.

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