513 Nativity Scene The first-ever Nativity scene recorded in history was created by St. Francis of Assisi in the 13th century. St. Francis was concerned that the meaning of Christmas was becoming lost as most people were more focused with the ritual of gift giving than the true message of Christmas. Nativity sets as we know them today found their roots in the 1300s. They started as display pieces for Italian churches. In the mid-1500s, Nativity sets began to appear in the homes of wealthier citizens. The basic nativity set should consist of at least five pieces. The manger where baby Jesus rests, is placed front and center in the stable. This is because Jesus is the most significant piece in any Nativity set. Mary and Joseph are also prominent. Mary is often placed right beside the manger, fondly looking over her son, while Joseph is usually placed on the opposite side of the manger. These five pieces, stable, manger, Christ child, Mary and Joseph, make a complete basic set. Other pieces may be added including, the star of Bethlehem, the Angel Gabriel, the shepherds, the Wise-men, and various barn animals.