2016 Mepkin Abbey Creche Festival


2016 Mepkin Abbey Crèche Festival Results

1. # 45. Handcrafted Flemish Presepio – 823 votes
2. # 46. Monk Nativity Set – 437 votes
3. # 14. Hammered Copper Set – 389 votes
4. # 26. Carved Juniper Limbs – 372 votes
5. # 52. Italian Nativity with fuzzy sheep – 326 votes

2016 Creche Festival:

  • November 14 – 20 and
  • November 25 – December 2
  • Store will be open on Mondays during the Creche Festival

The Night Visitors is the invitational piece of this year’s Crèche Festival. Artist Janet McKenzie said that, in creating this painting she was influenced, in part, by the massacre that took place on June 17, 2015 at Mother Emanuel Church in Charleston.

2015 Creche Festival Video

The Night Visitors_7.5x10-McKenzie-3


This is a painting about a journey taken at night, led by a star. The Night Visitors traveled under the bright light of a star to honor a newborn baby – this child sent for our salvation. It is also about Joseph, the earthly father of Jesus, present to the child at birth, and onward, and it is about a strong, young mother, Mary, who was called by God.

Mary is the voice and the action of this painting and she looks at us with eyes conveying sadness, longing and admittedly, doubt. She presents the Christ Child yet holds on to him tightly, this swaddled baby whose sleeping face is circled in cloth. Only he has a simple pink halo.

The Night Visitors pays homage to the nurturing side of men. Sadly the quiet and gentle male spirit is not celebrated often enough. Here Joseph and the Magi have their eyes closed in contemplation and prayer reflecting longing for closeness to God, our shared experience. I was inspired by the good monks at Mepkin Abbey and by my own lovely son to create a work of art honoring the peaceful and tender side of men and what a beautiful thing that is.

On June 17, 2015, nine innocent souls lost their lives at Mother Emanuel Church in Charleston, SC. Recently a friend attended the National Black Sister’s Conference in Charleston and had a prayer service at the church. She said what touched her most was seeing the late Reverend Clementa Pinckney’s chair in the sanctuary draped with black cloth. Her memory became mine. While working on The Night Visitors day after day and hearing the news coming from Charleston the painting took on a life of its own and this tragedy infused the painting. Perhaps the darkness of the spirit deepened, perhaps eyes are closed more tightly and perhaps Mary looks at us with larger questions behind her eyes.

When Fr. Guerric Heckle called me to discuss creating a new and inclusive interpretation of the Magi story I was instantly inspired. I was delighted and honored to know the painting would serve as the invitational piece into Mepkin Abbey’s 2015 Crèche Festival. But one never knows at the outset of a journey the path that will be revealed and for an artist just how a work of art will move forward into existence. I accepted the spiritual commitment it takes to do this work and mourned, along with everyone else, the massacre in Charleston. It is my hope that viewers will experience The Night Visitors as a beacon of possibility, one that encourages hope over despair and like the congregation at Mother Emanuel have chosen so inspirationally to do, may it invite forgiveness and love.

Janet McKenzie, the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont

The Night Visitors copyright 2015 Janet McKenzie

Collection of Mepkin Abbey, Moncks Corner, SC

(36” x 48”, oil on canvas)

About the artist



What is a creche?

A creche is a representation of the infant Jesus in the manger, typically surrounded by the figures found in a nativity set. Mary, Joseph, the Wise Men, animals and shepherds are often included in the scenes. Visitors from around the country flock to Mepkin Abbey for an incredible display of unique, handmade nativity sets from around the world. Mepkin’s Abbey’s creche Festival is a Lowcountry holiday tradition! The monks transform their conference center into a forest of trees and candles which serve as the backdrop for the Nativity sets.

(DVD) Nativity: The Art And Spirit Of The Creche

After the cross, the Nativity scene is Christianity’s most recognized symbol. Its history, art and spirituality have been embraced by cultures around the world for nearly two thousand years. This video unites theologians and collectors with an astonishing and beautiful array of nativity scenes collected from across the globe.

During the Festival, we are offering a complimentary copy of the DVD the Nativity with a minimum $100 purchase.


For further information about the Mepkin Abbey creche Festival or to talk about a donation to our collection, contact Fr. Guerric Heckel by email at Guerric@mepkinabbey.org or call 843-761-8509. He would be also interested in talking to those who have collections we might be able to exhibit in the future.

There will be no tours of the monastery and Church during the Creche Festival. We invite you to come at another time for this informative tour.

"Brothers, let us hasten to the Lord’s manger crib, but as far as we can let us first prepare ourselves by his grace to approach it. Then, in the company of the angels, with pure heart, a good conscience and unfeigned faith, let us sing to the Lord in the whole of our life and our monastic conversion: Glory to God in the highest and peace to all of good will."

— Aelred of Rievaux - Sermon on the Nativity