Archbishop Bernard Longley of Birmingham warmly commended the Nativity Trail, the traditional story of Christmas as depicted by artists over 500 years, at the official launch at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery on Tuesday, November 29, writes Peter Jennings.
This year, for the first time, a large Christmas crib has been placed in a prominent place near the statue of Queen Victoria, opposite the main entrance to Birmingham Council House, in the midst of the thriving annual German Christmas market.
Prior to the launch of the Nativity Trail, Rita McLean, head of Museum Heritage Services, and Victoria Osborne, Curator of Fine Art, showed the group of churchmen and city councillors round.
These included Archbishop Longley, Bishop David Urquhart, the Anglican Bishop of Birmingham; Canon Gerry Breen, Dean of the Metropolitan Cathedral and Basilica of St Chad, the Deputy Lord Mayor of Birmingham, Councillor Len Gregory, and Mrs Gill Gregory; Councillor Alan Rudge and Councillor Mullaney.
The Very Reverend Catherine Ogle, Dean of Birmingham, together with a number of Catholic priests and Anglican clergy, were among the visitors in the crowded Round Room who enjoyed a selection of popular carols sung by children from two local Catholic schools.
The Nativity Trail this year includes the following masterpieces depicting the Christmas story: The Star of Bethlehem (1887-1891) by Edward Burne-Jones (Gallery 14), The Annunciation (1858) by Arthur Hughes (Gallery 18), The Adoration of the Shepherds (c 1520-40) by Bonifazio de’Pitati, called Veronese (Gallery 26) and The Rest on the Flight into Egypt (1615-20) by Orazio Gentileschi (Gallery 25).