A Vatican Christmas mystery

VATICAN CITY — In the popular imagination, the Vatican is a hotbed of intrigue.

The latest mystery in the Vatican press office is “the case of the missing ox and donkey.”

The press office Nativity scene this morning; sheep take the place of the ox and donkey ... until the mystery is solved.

The press office Nativity scene this morning; sheep take the place of the ox and donkey … until the mystery is solved.

Like every Vatican office, the press office has a Nativity scene. It was set up last Friday — and I even helped. The set was in complete compliance with Italian pre-Christmas rules: Mary and Joseph were there, but the baby Jesus will not make an appearance until midnight Christmas. The Three Kings are still in the box and will remain there until the feast of the Epiphany Jan. 6. The shepherds, sheep and angel are all present in expectation of the Savior’s birth.

And, of course, there was an ox on one side of the empty manger and a donkey on the other side.

But as of yesterday, no trace was found of the two animals.

Press office staff asked me if I knew who took them; I wasn’t a suspect, it’s just that the CNS cubicle is closest to the “presepio.”

I didn’t see anything, but I had my suspicions. (A likely suspect, one of my colleagues, called to say it wasn’t him. However, he’s willing to go to the Vatican jail for a few days … but just because he thinks he could get a “scoop” by interviewing, or at least being jailed with, the papal butler.)

Some people at the press office think it’s funny, others don’t, but all agree it has to do with Pope Benedict XVI’s new book, “Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives.”

In the book, the pope said the Gospels make no mention of animals being present in the stable when Jesus was born, but he also said no Nativity scene would be complete without them.

Passionist Father Ciro Benedettini, assistant director of the Vatican press office, said jokingly, “We will open a formal inquest.”

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8 Responses to A Vatican Christmas mystery

  1. cora roa-dillon says:

    I’m sorry that the animals are missing, but our group here are still waiting for the concern we sent you about a month ago regarding the “Gospel of St. Thomas” book, Logion 22. its about Yeshua telling his students that ambiguous humans will sure gain entry to the king


  2. Pardon me but isn’t stealing animals from a Nativity scene a bit “ass”- inine?

  3. chrisjagrady says:

    It was Mickens, Cindy. I have no evidence to support this claim, but why let facts get in the way of a good story? Buon Natale. X

  4. Tony Spence says:

    Evreyone knows you can’t make any real money in the religious press. The ox and donkey are probably making better holiday pay in one of the richer creches at the Vatican. I’d check the basilica.

  5. Adam Mindenki says:

    Yes, probably that Kungian, Mickens. That makes sense.

  6. Cindy Wooden says:

    I received a ransom note-text message on my phone last night demanding $1 million. The silly extortionist apparently didn’t realize that because he’s in my contact list, the note showed up under his name and phone number. If the missing animals are not returned, I shall give my phone to Vatican investigators. (Adam, Chris, the note was NOT from Robert, and he’s not among the prime suspects.)

  7. chrisjagrady says:

    Oh God, Cindy, tell me it wasn’t from Fr Lombardi?!

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