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7 December 2013. Lisieux, France. The Philippines was in the limelight as the feature country in the 8th edition of the Crèches du Monde (Nativity Scenes/Belens of the World) Exhibit inLisieux, France. The exhibit, which features different nativity scenes from over 50 countries all over the world, was inaugurated in the Pope John Paul II Center in front of the Basilica of St. Therese of the Child Jesus.  The exhibition was made possible through the coordinated efforts of the Philippine Embassy in Paris and the Catholic Mission of the Philippines in France. Her Excellency, Ambassador Cristina G. Ortega, along with the officers and staff of the Philippine Embassy in Paris, led the Philippine delegation that attended the inauguration of the exhibit. A small delegation of devotees of the relics of St. Therese flew in all the way from Manila to witness the opening. Members of the Filipino community in Paris were also present.

In his opening remarks, Fr. Olivier Ruffray, rector of the Sanctuary of St. Therese in Lisieux, welcomed everyone and expressed gratitude to all those who made the exhibit possible. He said that these nativity scenes are a symbol and faith and of hope for everyone as thy symbolize the coming of Christ into the world. Father Ruffray also conveyed to the Ambassador Lisieux’ support and solidarity for the Philippines in the wake of typhoon Haiyan.

The Ambassador, in response, also expressed gratitude to the organizers of the exhibit for choosing the Philippines as the focus country for this year. She highlighted the Filipino spirit of resilience in times of crises and she thanked everyone for their messages of solidarity for the Filipino people. She assured everyone that with the international community, the Philippines will rebuild itself and move forward from this tragedy. Ambassador Ortega also shared with everyone that the Philippines is the only Christian country in Asia and that this exhibit is a testament to the country’s joyful celebration of Christmas which is based on faith and love for each other.

Over 20 different sets of Philippine-made belens were brought from the Philippines. University of the Philippines Professor Ruben Defeo oversaw the mounting of the crèches and explained the story behind the different sets displayed. The Philippine nativity scenes were grouped into three --- artisanal belens made from non-traditional materials such as lahar, paper maché and debris; traditional, Spanish-era inspired crèches and non-traditional creative belens made from eco-friendly materials such as recycled soda cans and yarn.

The inauguration was also attended by Lisieux Mayor Bernard Aubril and other city officials.

The Exhibit runs from 07 December 2013 to 01 February 2014.