Assange "man of the year" in Naples nativity creches

Wed Dec 8, 2010 11:19am EST
 
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By Philip Pullella

NAPLES (Reuters Life!) - Wikileaks founder Julian Assange may be alone in jail in London, but in the traditional Neapolitan Christmas creches he is in good company -- with Jesus, Mary and Joseph.

Assange, who is depicted holding his trusty lap top, was created by Gennaro Di Virgilio, who each year chooses at least one contemporary character to sculpt and place near the scenes of the traditional story of Jesus' birth in a manger.

"I included him to poke a little fun at the world and have a good time," said Di Virgilio, 29, whose family has been making nativity statuettes and ornate creches since 1830.

In recent decades, artists and craftsmen who make Neapolitan creches have used them to portray the signs of the times.

"In a sense, Assange is the man of the year," said Di Virgilio, whose tiny shop is one of many on a narrow Naples street named Via San Gregorio Armeno that specialized in Christmas statues, creches and trinkets all year.

There is only one copy of the Assange statuette, which costs 130 euros. Di Virgilio says he will make others on request.

There are, however, multiple copies of statuettes of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi that Italians can place in the manger with the Holy Family, the wise men, the ox and the sheep.

This year, the southern city's garbage crisis has become a recurring theme among the artists and craftsmen along the street, which is barely three meters wide.   Continued...

 
<p>A figure of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is placed in a Neapolitan Christmas creche by Gennaro Di Virgilio depicting the Nativity of Jesus in Naples, December 6, 2010. In recent decades, artists and craftsmen who make Neapolitan creches have used them to portray the signs of the times. Assange, who is depicted holding his trusty laptop, was created by Di Virgilio, who each year chooses at least one contemporary character to sculpt and place near the scenes of the traditional story of Jesus' birth in a manger. There is only one copy of Assange statuette which costs around 130 euros. This year, the southern city's garbage crisis also has become a recurring theme among the artists and craftsmen whose shops, along the narrow Via San Gregorio Armeno street, specialise in Christmas statues, creches and trinkets all year. REUTERS/Ciro De Luca</p>