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Christmas 2015
Madrid church recreates nativity scene with drowned refugee child
Photo: Mensajeros de la Paz

Madrid church recreates nativity scene with drowned refugee child

Fiona Govan · 15 Dec 2015, 16:13

Published: 15 Dec 2015 16:13 GMT+01:00

In early September the young boy washed up on a Turkish beach as his family fled Syria and attempted to reach Europe.

The photograph of the child lying facedown in the sand was published worldwide and served to symbolize the desperate plight of refugees flooding into Europe.

The image was seen by an estimated 20 million people across the world within just 12 hours, and galvanized European governments, including Spain, into taking action.

Now the image has been incorporated within a polemic adaptation of the traditional 'Belén' in an attempt  to raise awareness of the plight of refugees this Christmas.

The figure of Aylan takes the place of the baby Jesus while his griefstricken parents take the role of Mary and Joseph. Instead of a stable, the trio are sheltered by a refugee tent  with reproductions of drawings by refugee children of their journeys.

The San Anton Church in Madrid’s downtown Chueca district has already earned a reputation as a forward thinking parish where pets are welcome and the faithful can confess via iPad.

The nativity scene, which was designed by Spanish artist Ikella Alonso for the Messengers of Peace Foundation, an NGO working with refugees, can be viewed at anytime until January 6th as the the church on Calle Hortaleza is open 24 hours.

Story continues below…

It is not the first nativity scene to draw attention to the refugee crisis. Earlier this month Pope Francis lit the Christmas tree at the Basilica of St Francis in Assisi unveiling a Nativity scene set up within a boat used by refugees.

For more news from Spain, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Fiona Govan (fiona.govan@thelocal.com)

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