Advent calendar, Nativity exhibit on display

Staff report

MARIA STEIN — The Maria Stein Shrine of the Holy Relics is hosting an Advent calendar and Nativity exhibit from the collection of Tim and Katheleen Nealeigh though Jan. 7.

“I purchased my first Nativity in 1965 when I was teaching in Northern Illinois. On my way to the train station, I passed a religious store and paid the equivalent of a month’s salary. I still have that set on display,” said Tim Nealeigh.

His second set was purchased shortly after in France, but it wasn’t until the boom of the Internet and e-Bay in the 90s that Tim and Katheleen’s collection really started to grow.

In 1970, Tim and Kathleen purchased their first Advent calendar for their son, Thomas’ first Christmas.

“It was flat, like many Advent calendars tend to be, but the next year I discovered my first 3D calendar, and I was hooked. My goal then became to find the most unusual ones I could find,” said Tim.

“Since the first nativity scene was developed by Saint Francis of Assisi, different people have been putting their own spin on the birth of Christ. This display of nativities showcases the various ways the Jesus’ birth has been interpreted,” says Matt Hess, director of Hospitality at the Shrine.

Enjoy this intriguing and beautiful display during normal Shrine Hours now through Jan. 7, but it will be closed on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. There is no charge to experience the nativities display; however, a free will offering will be accepted.

The Maria Stein Shrine of the Holy Relics provides faith nourishment and spiritual renewal through opportunities for prayer and pilgrimage and inspiration from the lives of the saints. People from around the world visit the shrine to explore and enjoy this environment rich in holiness and history. The Relic Chapel is home to the second largest collection of relics of the saints in the United States.

The Shrine is located at 2291 St. John’s Road in Maria Stein. To learn more about the Maria Stein Shrine of the Holy Relics, visit or call 419-925-4532.

Staff report