The life-sized figures of Mary and Joseph were to be expected. What drew the longest gaze from visitors to the Nativity scene on St. Peter’s Square this Christmas was the strange pile of crushed masonry in front of the stable.
The shattered stonework came from the cathedral in the central Italian town of Norcia and was retrieved after an earthquake struck Oct. 30 and wrecked the church.
A metal cross toppled from the peak of the cathedral that day. Placed next to the stones, it is a reminder not only of Norcia’s fate, but also of the many tremors that shook central Italy this year and claimed hundreds of lives.
When the church in Norcia is rebuilt,...