SPRINGFIELD TWP.: More than 100 scenes portraying the birth of Jesus and representing cultures from around the world are on display in the museum on the lower level of Nativity of the Lord Jesus Catholic Church at 2425 Myersville Road in Springfield Township.
The Nativity sets, which the Rev. David Halaiko has collected since 1979, are created from a variety of materials, ranging from paper to semi-precious stone. Many are handmade and come from all parts of the globe, including Brazil, China, Egypt, El Salvador, France, Germany, Guatemala, Haiti, Israel (Bethlehem and Jerusalem), Italy, Mexico, Nigeria, Poland, Slovakia, Tanzania, Uruguay and Vietnam.
Although the museum is open all year, it is especially popular during the Christmas season. In addition, images of the Christmas story can be found in the church itself, which is designed to reflect the fourth-century Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.
A depiction of the star of Bethlehem shines in a stained-glass window of the gathering space adjacent to the Roman-Basilica-style sanctuary.
Next to the museum, in the basement of the church, is a replica of the cave where it is said Jesus was born, as it appears in the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. The Bethlehem cave, one of only two such replicas in the nation, serves as a chapel and a place for pilgrimage.
Free guided tours of the Bethlehem Cave and Nativity Museum are available at 2 p.m. daily Wednesday through Dec. 30 during a special open house. The museum and cave are open daily for self-guided tours during regular church hours, and guided tours can be scheduled.
The church also offers a special Bethlehem marketplace experience for schools.
For more information, call 330-699-5086 or visit www.nativityofthelord.org.