Nativity scene in Madrid parish seeks to shine light Syrian refugee families’ plight at Christmastime

San Antón parish nativity scene in Madrid. Photo: Mensajeros de la Paz / The Local
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• San Antón parish nativity scene depicts drowned Syrian refugee child

• Refugee tent, route map & refugee children’s drawings adorn manger scene

The parish church of San Antón in Madrid’s Chueca district has given Christianity’s nativity story a contemporary look this Christmas, commemorating the story of Mary and Joseph’s long journey and desperate search for shelter in Bethlehem with the plight of Syrian refugees fleeing war and hardship for a better life in Europe.

In its nativity scene this year, the parish has used the image of the drowned three-year-old Syrian refugee Aylan Kurdi, whose body washed up on a beach in Turkey after he and his family fled Syria and attempted to reach Europe by boat.

The photograph of the drowned three-year-old boy, which went viral on the Internet and social media and was seen by some 20 million people within 24 hours, is credited with pushing European governments into taking action on the refugee crisis

In the San Antón parish’s nativity scene, the figure of Aylan takes the place of baby Jesus and the figures of Mary and Joseph are substituted by the drowned child’s parents, with a refugee tent substituting for the stable of the nativity story. The scene also includes reproduction of drawings by Syrian refugee children.

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