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This post is a counterpart to this other question of mine: What is earliest mention of the Church tradition that Jesus was born in a cave?


In the World Library Publications Missalettes, which have an Ecclesiastical Approval given by Rev. Msgr. John F. Canary, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Chicago, there are liturgical reflections before the liturgy of that day.

If I recall correctly, in one of these over Christmastide, there is a reflection to the effect that

Mary and Joseph lodged with relatives in Bethlehem; the "no place for them in the inn" means that no room for them in the main part of the house and therefore they were placed in a part of the same house where animals were kept at night. Another reflection had: the shepherds find Mother and child in such meager conditions, cannot bear to leave them in the place they found them, and take them to better conditions, etc.

The question is, since this appears in a publication with Ecclesiastical approval, whence and by whom has such a story come because it is at odds with the traditional teaching and understanding of the Christmas story?

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Sorry, I can't really address this from within the Catholic Church either through membership or knowledge of, but it is entirely non-denominationally biblical.

Perhaps the account of the visit of the wise men (Magi)in Matthew 2:1-12 will help:

1 Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, 2 Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him. 3 When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born. 5 And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet, 6 And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.

7 Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared. 8 And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also.

9 When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. 11 And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh. 12 And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way. - KJV

So, the so-called 'wise men' visited a considerable time after Jesus' birth in the stable's crib and having settled with his mother and father in a more suitably comfortable room of a proper house.

That's all. Thanks and God bless

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I think the most appropriate response is that Ecclesiastical approval does not take into account the difference between a house or a stable or a cave as the setting for the birth of Jesus. Ecclesiastical approval considers such things as faith and morals, not historical details. As pointed out by Dieter Hoffmann, Matthew's infancy narrative places Jesus in a house and does not mention any inn overcrowding. Luke's narrative places him in a manger because of inn overcrowding, but doesn't say whether that manger was in a stable or a cave. Creche scenes traditionally show the scene in a rustic stable. Pilgrims to Nazareth will be shown a cave in the Church of the Nativity as "the" place. Maybe it is, maybe it isn't. The church has never infallibly certified that it is, and probably never will.

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