Sunday 25 February 2018

A place for the fox

• While the presence of animals at the birth of Jesus may be a myth, I hope this Christmas tradition will continue.

My favourite crib is the one at the Dominican Church in Limerick. This has an additional guest: a fox effigy, recalling a legend concerning the holy family. One of the three wise men is supposed to have given Jesus a fox cub as a gift.

By the time Herod had ordered the killing of the child, the cub had grown to maturity. The fox, according to the story, threw Herod's hounds off the scent, enabling the holy family to escape.

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