This real photo postcard of the Holy Rosary Church’s Christmas crib was taken during the 1941 holiday season.
Missionaries of St. Charles founded Holy Rosary Parish, located at 911 E. Missouri Avenue, in the 1880s to serve the Italian immigrants in Kansas City, who settled near the old Market Square (now City Market) area.
Still standing after the ravages of three fires over its 125-year history, the church is active in its Columbus Park neighborhood community.
According to Father JosephVicentini, the crib is always the first thing to be put up for the Celebration of the Nativity.
The crib tradition was actually started by St. Francis of Assisi as a way to celebrate what we now call a nativity scene.
It is actually built in a series of stages, not becoming truly complete until the feast of the Epiphany, which announces the arrival of the three Magi and their subsequent acknowledgement of Jesus as the revelation of God to mankind in human form. (It is celebrated on January 6, “the twelfth day of Christmas”).
This card was sent from Xavier, Kansas, to a monk at the St. Joseph Monastery on June 7, 1948.
The message reads, “Dear Brother, So glad you are well, and I was delighted to receive your letter. Arrangements are nearly all made. Glad you are having a new building. My retreat was made early (February). I am disappointed she did not remember you – you will be received with open arms when you come.
Don’t wait too late. I may not be here when you come. Love and Prayers, your Brother.”
Although the location of where this elaborate nativity scene was erected in the church is unknown, Father Vicentini indicated it might have been set up in the front-right corner of the sanctuary near a sidealtar.
The postcard bears no publisher’s mark, either, so it may have been a homemade card, created by a parishioner at Holy Rosary.