Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta

Photo by Tim Durski/Cathedral of Christ the King
An outdoor Nativity scene at the Cathedral of Christ the King is one of several at the Peachtree Road church in Atlanta. Archbishop Hartmayer requested that his cathedral church be part of a plenary indulgence to mark the anniversary of the first Nativity staged by St. Francis of Assisi.


Three Atlanta churches part of plenary indulgence for Greccio Nativity anniversary 

By GEORGIA BULLETIN STAFF | Published December 21, 2023

ATLANTA—On the 800th anniversary of the “Nativity scene of Greccio,” the Apostolic Penitentiary is granting a plenary indulgence to all the faithful who, between now and Feb. 2 (Feast of the Presentation of the Lord), visit a Nativity scene in a church entrusted to the Franciscan Friars anywhere in the world.   

The Franciscan-led parishes in the Archdiocese of Atlanta are Holy Cross Church, 3773 Chamblee Tucker Rd., Atlanta; and St. Philip Benizi Church, 591 Flint River Rd. in Jonesboro. 

Additionally, Archbishop Gregory J. Hartmayer, OFM Conv., requested the Apostolic Penitentiary to grant this privilege to his cathedral church, since he is a Franciscan Friar. The Apostolic Penitentiary granted the Cathedral of Christ the King this privilege. The cathedral is at 2699 Peachtree Road NE in Atlanta. 

A plenary indulgence is a remission of the temporal punishment due for one’s sins. 

The faithful may obtain the plenary indulgence under the usual conditions: Going to confession, receiving the Eucharist, praying for the intentions of Pope Francis and devoutly pausing before the Nativity scene prepared in the mentioned churches; as well as spending an appropriate period of time in pious meditation and concluding with the Our Father, a profession of faith and invocations to the Holy Family of Jesus (Mary and Joseph), and St. Francis of Assisi (see the invocations below). 

Those who are sick or unable physically to participate can receive the plenary indulgence either by offering up their sufferings or by carrying out acts of piety. 

St. Francis of Assisi staged the first Nativity scene in Greccio, Italy in 1223. The indulgence marks its anniversary. 

Invocation to the Holy Family  

“Oh Good Jesus, contemplating this Nativity scene, I ask you for the grace of forgiveness of my sins. You are the dawn from on high made flesh to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death. You made your home among us and loved us to the point of giving your life for us. You did not come to condemn the world but to save it. Give me the grace of sincere repentance and the humility to recognize my frailty. Give me faith in your mercy and renew in me the joy of your salvation. 

Mary, Mother of Jesus and Mother of the Church, teach us the joy of the humble and of those who believe in the promises of the Lord. Help us to proclaim the greatness of the God who accompanies and saves suffering humanity. You are the dawn of a new creation. You are Virgin made Church, you are Mother of grace and mercy. Listen to our plea with the tenderness of your immaculate heart. 

Saint Joseph, just and faithful servant of the Lord, you are a holy and generous custodian. Do not take your care away from us, lost pilgrims in search of the true homeland. Protect the Church from the snares of the evil one and teach us to trust in the One who gave his only Son to rescue us from sin, evil and death.” 

Invocation to St. Francis of Assisi 

“Saint Francis of Assisi, you who loved the poor and humble Christ so much that you wanted to relive in Greccio, with faith and devotion, the night of his birth in Bethlehem, intercede for us so that we can contemplate with a clean heart the beauty of the incarnation of the Son of God and the kindness of his gaze that calls us to a new life. Amen.”