For Christmas 2016, the head of the Roman Catholic Church selected a 14th century Giotto di Bondone painting featuring two baby Jesuses–one held by the Virgin Mary and another cradled by a midwife.
According to the National Catholic Register, Giotto painted Jesus twice in his 1313 fresco to illustrate both the human and divine aspects of his nature. The image of two midwives supporting one of the babies at Mary’s feet suggests that Jesus is not a stranger to the world, but “a part of the humanity to which we belong,” explained Sacred Convent of Assisi Press Officer Enzo Fortunato. The swaddling clothes also carry significance, alluding to the need to alleviate the suffering of others, he added.
Aside from its deeper meaning, Pope Francis selected the painting because of its origins in Assisi, Italy, the same town where his namesake Saint Francis of Assisi–who invented the first-ever nativity scene–was born.
With a little backstory, the Pope’s Christmas card seems like a perfect reminder of the reason for the season for the Catholic Church. You can view the photo here.