Were the Wise Men Really at the Stable?

Q. In the Christmas crèche, is it historically accurate to have the shepherds and the Wise Men appear in the stable at the same time?

A. Probably not, though we don’t know for sure. Few details of timing in the events surrounding Our Lord’s nativity are recorded in the Gospels, and Matthew and Luke (only two Evangelists provide an account) approach the story with different concerns and emphases. Luke clearly recounts the events from Mary’s point of view, offering details about the inhospitable conditions surrounding her delivery. Matthew seems to tell the story from St. Joseph’s point of view, including the Magi (Wise Men) because one of his dreams warns him to flee from Herod’s wrath, which resulted from their visit.

Luke reports that the shepherds came on the night Jesus was born. The angel told them that the Savior had been born “this day,” and as soon as the angel disappeared, they went “with haste” to find the Child (Luke 2:11, 16). So placing the shepherds around the manger in the crèche doesn’t rai