NAPLES, Italy (ChurchMilitant.com) - Italy's top sculptors of crib figurines are marshaling the Magi to lampoon the government's "Green Pass," even as activists close to Pope Francis deploy masked Nativity characters to promote face coverings.
The Green Pass — Italy's stealth vaccine passport, designed to coerce conscientious objectors into taking the abortion-tainted COVID-19 jab — has now been superseded by the even more draconian "Super Green Pass," after the former failed to achieve its objective.
Crib craftsmen in Naples, the world's mecca of manger making, are flinging satirical javelins at the over-the-top government regulations.
On the picturesque Neapolitan alley of Via San Gregorio Armeno, which houses dozens of emporia crafting and selling every conceivable object connected to crib-craft, artisan Marco Ferrigno is insisting his wise men are poking fun at the good-for-nothing Green Pass.
"We always make a reference to current events to turn the spotlight on our works," said Ferrigno. "I'm vaccinated but I respect those who decide not to get jabbed."
The craftsman is pained that his "ironic" creations have been misconstrued as propaganda for the vaccine mandates. "Some people accused me of being a Nazi-Fascist, of being in favor of mandatory vaccines."
"This year, since the three kings have a long journey to face from September to January, I thought I'd give them a vaccine certificate. At least their Green Pass expires on Jan. 6," Ferrigno jokes, explaining that designing "vaccinated" Magi statuettes is also a roguish business ploy.
The lockdowns and mandates have devastated the cottage industry of crib making in Naples, the sculptor explained. "Last year, we were on our own; we did not receive the help of anyone but some private sponsors."
The famous "crib" street of San Gregorio Armeno in Naples
"The survival of 50 families and the livelihoods of 200 other people linked in some way to the trade depends on the survival of these shops," Ferrigno explained, hoping that the vaccine passport in the hands of the Magi will also be "a gift to the artisans of San Gregorio."
Theologian Fr. Dwight Longenecker offered Church Militant his insights into the "sagacious diplomats from the Nabatean kingdom in Arabia, who traveled to Jerusalem to pay homage to the newborn King of the Jews."
Longenecker, author of Mystery of the Magi: The Quest to Identify the Three Wise Men, explained:
To succeed in their quest, the Magi had to not only follow their astrological insights, but they had also to navigate strict border controls, delicate political minefields and the xenophobic suspicion of foreigners.
Portraying the Magi as travelers with vaccine passports makes a subtle visual statement about the restrictions on personal freedom today that reflect back on the tyrannical control imposed not only on the Magi, but also on the Holy Family by the tyrant Herod the Great —who was himself the puppet of the overwhelming globalist Roman Empire.
The infancy stories surrounding the infancy of Jesus continue to echo into the conflicts and challenges of every age, and just as Vatican authorities use the annual Nativity display to make political points, so preachers, artists and commentators will use the saga of the Holy Family and the characters of Christmas to preach their own message to the multitudes.
Meanwhile, the ancient Basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere, Rome, is using its manger to promote the use of masks — despite studies discrediting face coverings as "dirty, dehumanizing and dangerous."
"If the medical community wants to prove masks work, there needs to be a well-done randomized trial, and there isn't one," writes high-tech entrepreneur Steve Kirsch.
"Masks act as a crude reminder that danger is all around, that we are all potential biohazards. So on a common-sense level, continued wearing of them will exacerbate anxieties rather than reduce them," warns clinical psychologist Dr. Gary Sidley.
But the Trastevere Nativity, erected by the Community of Sant'Egidio (a left-wing activist group known to have heavily influenced Pope Francis' pro-migrant and pro-Muslim policies) is brazenly using its crib characters to virtue-signal for face coverings.
Mary and Joseph are in the crib unmasked, but migrants at the inn next door are wearing face masks, with some brandishing the Green Pass.
"In the beautiful crib of Santa Maria in Trastevere this year, even the 'Green Pass' has been featured, not to create controversy, but to remember the many health workers who are helping those in need with vaccination," Andrea Olivero from Sant'Egidio said on Facebook.
Dr. Alex de Figueiredo, research fellow on the Vaccine Confidence Project at London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, has called for a "rethink" on vaccine passports, as they "offer little to no public health benefit" and may actually "result in lower uptake" of the jab.
Policies like the Green Pass that use coercive tactics may turn out to be counterproductive. De Figueiredo argues they "will dent confidence in the government and health care authorities."