Photo story: Living Nativity scene in Prea

The following Photo Story was generated as part of the final assignment for the Advanced Photojournalism module I took at Dublin City University.

The Photo Story was subsequently picked up by More News Soc. Coop. (Italy) and was published on It is available at this address.

In April 2015, a selection of pictures from the same Photo Story won the DCU Hybrid Student Media Awards in the “Photographer of the Year” category, which was judged by Kieran Frost, photographer for Getty Images and freelance photographer with The Irish Times.

Links to entries:







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Over 5,000 people visited the Living Crib event held in Prea (Italy) on the 24th, 25th of December and 5th of January.

The number refers to the tickets sold on the three nights, and does not take into account the hundreds of children who were granted free entrance.

“Considering the amount of families at the event, I am pretty sure that this year we reached at least 6,000 visitors,” said Luca Basso, one of the organisers of the Presepe Vivente (Living Crib).

The Presepe Vivente, allegedly invented by Italy’s patron saint Francis of Assisi, is a very important tradition in Italy, probably unique in the world in terms of Christmas celebrations.

In Prea, more than 200 performers acted out the crib scene, representing 50 arts, crafts and trades from the 17th century, and wearing faithful costumes from the same age.

The anachronism is evident when placed side by side with the manger, but the aim is to show the simplicity of a life that was “really able to appreciate the true value of things,” Mr Basso tells us ,“as it used to be in Prea back then.”

Prea, an ancient Occitan village close to the Western Alps, is a very suggestive location for this type of representation, which is at the same time religious and historical.

The Holy Family is always played by a local family: this year it was impersonated by Massimo Maule (Saint Joseph), Manuela Marenchino (Virgin Mary) and the little Greta Maule (Baby Jesus).

The manger is traditionally located in a hut opposite to the main entrance to the Parochial Church.


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