Here is the story of the first creche:
THE FIRST NATIVITY SCENE: St. Francis recreated the scene of Christ’s birth in a special ritual and Mass he held inside of a cave in Greccio, Italy, inviting both his fellow friars and the townspeople to join in the celebration.
Later he told a friend why he desired to create the first nativity scene in his town:
He told a friend "I want to do something that will recall the memory of that Child who was born in Bethlehem, to see with bodily eyes the inconveniences of his infancy, how he lay in the manger, and how the ox and ass stood by.”
He set up an empty manger (the feeding trough of farm animals which served as Jesus’ crib) inside a cave, and even included a live ox and donkey beside the manger just as it was believed to have happened on that first Christmas night. Through these visual aids he wanted everyone to impress more deeply into their understanding how Christ came into the world in such poverty and simplicity. The townspeople crowded around to see this wonder, and is is said that many were moved to tears. This was a typical perspective of St. Francis’ unique charism of simple, poverty-centered spirituality.
St. Francis, pray for us!