Honoring 800 Years of Tradition

Immerse Yourself in the Nativity Story

In 1223, wanting to emphasize the humble circumstances of Jesus's birth and to inspire the local people to more deeply appreciate the Christmas story, St. Francis set up a live nativity scene in a cave in the quaint Italian village of Greccio. The scene, also called a creche, included live animals and a hay-filled manger to recreate the birth of Jesus as described in the Gospels.

St. Francis's initiative marked the beginning of a tradition that has since spread around the world, with nativity scenes now a common part of Christmas celebrations in many cultures.

Please join us in honoring this timeless legacy:

Celebrating The Rule of St. Francis 1223-2023
The pattern of life for members of the Franciscan family

Oct. 2, 2023
7 p.m.
San Damiano Chapel, 900 Viterbo Drive, La Crosse, WI

Father Conrad Targonski will present The Rule.
*More details to come!

The Greccio Experience
Nov. 29 - Dec. 17, 2023
Prayer Service: Nov. 29 at 5:30 p.m. (live-streamed)
San Damiano Chapel, 900 Viterbo Drive, La Crosse, WI

Creches (nativity scenes) will be on display for self-guided tours.
*More details to come!

Community Mural
Dec. 4 - 15, 2023
Monday - Friday: 8:30 a.m. - 4 p.m. | Mondays and Thursdays: 5 - 7 p.m. 
Franciscan Spirituality Center, 920 Market Street, La Crosse, WI

All are welcome to stop by the Franciscan Spirituality Center to take part in this paint-by-number experience. Painters of all ages and skill levels are encouraged to participate. No registration is required and all supplies will be provided.

Baby Item Drive
Dec. 4 - 21, 2023
Monday - Friday: 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.

As we celebrate the 800th anniversary of the crèche and contemplate the humble beginnings of Baby Jesus, let's extend our hands to the infants of today. Join our baby item drive to honor this special occasion. Your contributions will echo the love and care shown to the holy infant by benefiting Centro Latino, Family & Children's Center, Hope Restores and The Parenting Place.

Click here for a list of drop-off locations and most-needed items.

Lighting of Mayo Clinic Health System's CAMS Building
Dec. 10, 2023
Dusk on Dec. 10 to dawn on Dec. 11
Center for Advanced Medicine and Surgery, 700 West Avenue South, La Crosse, WI

The Mayo Clinic Health System's Center for Advanced Medicine and Surgery building will be lit purple to commemorate the 800th anniversary of the creche. The campus lighting program highlights important initiatives taking place in the communities they serve.

Franciscan Night at La Crosse's Rotary Lights Holiday Display
Dec. 10, 2023
5 - 10 p.m. (Ninth Street Singers will perform at 5:30 p.m.)
Riverside Park, 100 State Street, La Crosse, WI

Celebrate the 800th anniversary of the first creche with a Franciscan Night at La Crosse's Rotary Lights. Franciscans from around the community will staff the park, and Viterbo University’s choir will perform in the Ice Castle. Join us in this special occasion, for an evening of faith, community and heartfelt celebration, and take home a piece of history with our commemorative keepsake.

Advent Bowls: Sounds of Greccio
Dec. 16, 2023
6 - 7 p.m. (doors open at 5 p.m. for nativity scene viewing)
San Damiano Chapel, 900 Viterbo Drive, La Crosse, WI

Join the Franciscan Spirituality Center, Viterbo University Campus Ministry, Tom Roberts and Sister Malinda Gerke for an evening of Taize-style prayer, paired with the beautiful sounds of Tibetan singing bowls, harps, choirs and hymns.

Click here for more information and to register.

Blessing of Baby Jesus
Dec. 17, 2023
9:50 a.m. (followed by 10 a.m. Sunday Mass)
Mary of the Angels Chapel, 901 Franciscan Way, La Crosse, WI

Join us in honoring the birth of Jesus Christ with a Blessing for the Baby Jesus. Bring your Baby Jesus figurine from your home nativity scene to be blessed by Father Conrad Targonski in this profound symbolic gesture, demonstrating respect, love and reverence for the divine made manifest in the world.

Celebrate the spirit of Christmas and feel the unity in community as you reflect on the boundless love gifted by God's only son. Don't miss this chance to be part of a once-in-800-years celebration!

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