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San Diego Home To One Of The Largest Nativity Collections

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Aired 12/24/09

One of the country's largest nativity collections is on display in San Diego. The collection boasts more than 700 scenes.

The nativity scene collection at Father Joe's Villages contains life-size replicas of nativity characters that were made in Mexico.
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Above: The nativity scene collection at Father Joe's Villages contains life-size replicas of nativity characters that were made in Mexico.

Animals replace people in many of the nativity scenes displayed at Father Joe's Villages.
Enlarge this image

Above: Animals replace people in many of the nativity scenes displayed at Father Joe's Villages.

Father Joe's Villages also has miniature versions of the nativity scene, made in almost every material.
Enlarge this image

Above: Father Joe's Villages also has miniature versions of the nativity scene, made in almost every material.

— One of the country's largest nativity collections is on display in San Diego. The collection boasts more than 700 scenes.

The nativity collection belongs to San Diego's Father Joe Carroll of the non-profit group Father Joe's Villages. He started the collection 35 years ago after purchasing his first nativity scene as a young priest. Since then he's amassed almost every interpretation of the nativity scene from around the world. They include miniature versions to life-sized replicas.

Some displays use animals instead of people -- including bears, cats and chickens.

Carroll says some might find different interpretations of the nativity scene offensive. But he says they all represent the spirit of Christmas.

“Each one has a different cultural meaning,” Carroll said. “(God) came for the whole world. Animals and people. All that is part of the Christmas message.”

The nativity characters are made with everything from ceramic to corn husks. Some are even carved out of coconuts and walnuts. The collection is on display until next month at Father Joe’s Villages main office in Golden Hill.

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