2019-2020
THE INSTRUMENT

The fourth crib of the witnesses’ cycle saw a truly unusual narrator, a “twin” of Jesus, conceived with him in the mind of God and raised together with what would become his teacher.
Our narrator shared the date of birth, the first manifestations, the whole public period with Jesus, becoming one of his most faithful, devoted and silent apostles.
It is only thanks to him that the history of Salvation was accomplished, although he himself was against the epilogue chosen by God and communicated to him by Jesus, with whom he also shared death.
He already knew that his memory would be damned and his gesture would not be understood, so he wrote memories that were lost.
His name is Judas Iscariot.

From December 23 2019 to January 12 2020

with an exhibition on the coins of the time of Jesus

It is Christmas night, but that woman is not Mary and that child is not Jesus. Do you see Joseph? Or any adoring shepherds? Or the Wise Men? Do you hear the announcement of the angels? No! In our humble home, that night there were just me and my mother. My father preferred to go to Bethlehem to see the Holy Child foretold by the stars, rather than assisting his wife in labor.

It’s time that I introduce myself: my name is Judas, also called “the Hitman”, or, if you prefer, “Iscariot”. You probably know very little about me and that little certainly does me no honor… Perhaps you missed that I was born in the countryside of Jerusalem, less than two hours walk from Bethlehem. And maybe no one told you that the first time Jesus came to Jerusalem, he stopped right at the my Bar Mitzvah’s feast, entertaining the priests and the guests and making his parents worry a lot, believing that he was lost.

Do you know that I was always in the Jesus’ thoughts, even before he turned thirty? Did you ever wonder why I was the only Jew among eleven Galilean Apostles? And why did Jesus trust me so much that he gave me the cash of the Twelve? Did you know that I was the most faithful, the most silent and the most attentive of the Apostles? Did you ever ear that I was always the last to fall asleep, so that I could listen the teachings that the Master reserved for me only?
It was on the occasion of Pesach’s supper that Jesus asked me for the greatest demonstration of trust and love that can be asked to a disciple: I had to hand him over to the Romans so that he could be immolated and the God’s will could be fulfilled. Amid the astonishment of the other Apostles, he hurried me to dip his bread on his plate and dismissed me saying: «You are the instrument of Salvation in the hands of the Almighty. What you are about to do, do it quickly». I could only obey.

I kissed Jesus before entrusting him to the guards. He whispered to me that the thirty denarii, obtained by the priests as a reward, I had to put them in the cash of the Apostles, so that they might have something to eat after his arrest. And he added that we would meet very soon.

But things fell: some killers captured me and hanged me, scattering the coins of the reward on the ground. They were afraid that I would tell which priests of the Temple had sold themselves to the Romans to eliminate the long-awaited Messiah. As in the ancient rite of Yom Kippur, I became the scapegoat of those priests, while Jesus, crucified, became it for the whole of humanity. Meanwhile, the other Apostles, those passed into history as “faithful”, were denying the Master.
When I handed over Jesus to the guards, I did it so reluctantly, but I trusted my Master’s words: I was “the instrument” without which he could not have revealed his true nature to the world. I already knew that my gesture would not be understood and that my memory would be damned. For this reason I wrote a long letter that was soon hidden by the followers of the other Apostles *.

It was a surprise for everyone to see that empty tomb. Jesus had risen, and with him me too, his most faithful apostle, born on his own night, in which Jupiter and Saturn joined together giving life to a single great luminous star. In the same way our lives had united on Earth until the end of our days. And we were also together in the resurrection, when finally Jesus opened the doors of Knowledge to me.

* A copy of the Gospel of Judas was found in Egypt in 1978 and restored starting in 2001. In 2006, the first translation was published by the National Geographic Society.
I was in heaven, I could scrutinize the past, the present and the future, as my Master had promised me.
The first thing I wanted to see, just risen, was the birth of my “twin” Jesus.
All the honors were given to him: angels, magi, adoring shepherds …
On the contrary, I was alone with my mother: I had never forgiven my father for having abandoned us that night to go to the Bethlehem grotto.
Now, however, my eyes had opened to Knowledge and I could see the great mystery of life: Mary, at that moment, was a mother, exactly like mine. And in every mother, in every part of the world, of any social condition, in whatever situation it is, there is all the sanctity of Mary.
Every regret had disappeared in me. I was serene, in the grace of the Almighty.
This is why I want to show you that Birth as I saw it.
Has it ever happened to you that your gesture has been misinterpreted? That someone has made an opinion of you that does not correspond to you?
How did you feel?
Now that you know that mine was an extreme act of love and obedience, how do you think I can feel?
I wanted to see my Master’s triumph and I became in history as the worst traitor.
Because of that gesture my memory and that of all my people have been damned for centuries, so much so that even today there is someone who discriminates against those who are part of the People of Judah.
Yet I am serene, it is enough for me to know that I was the instrument of Salvation.
Be serene too, when you are in the right.

Your brother
Judas Iscariot

Curiosity

  • A record edition: the 2019-2020 edition of the Presepe nel Pozzo, also thanks to the promotion coordinated by the Municipality of Orvieto, broke every record of turnout and popularity, even surpassing the edition of Christmas 2014 that we thought was unparalleled
  • Antonella Ruggiero: the soundtrack of the Nativity scene was the very secular “Ave Maria” by Fabrizio De André performed by Antonella Ruggiero in a live recording granted specifically for our crib by the artist’s producer, it was the perfect musical setting to “close the circle” of the birth of Jesus and that of Judah
  • The exhibition on the coins of the time of Jesus: an exhibition on the coins of the time of Jesus enriched this lucky edition, with originals from Palestine of the first century BC. and 1st century A.D. and copies from the coins of the Vatican Apostolic Library, thanks to the collaboration with a generous collector from Orvieto and a well-known publishing house
  • A well in Africa: for the duration of the crib, offers were collected for the construction of a large water well in Ethiopia, thanks to the collaboration with Amref

Ideation – setting – creation of characters – graphics: Marco Sciarra | animatronic characters: Andrea Giomaro | faces and special make-up: Andrea Giomaro – Samantha Rose-Harker – David Bracci – Sara Catanzaro – Carlo Diamantini – Erica Buzzi – Special Makeup Studio – Creature Studios – Marisa Paisio – Marco Sciarra – Francesca Montanari | consultant on Jewish names and traditions: Yaron Munza | musical collaboration: Matteo Dragoni | face of the Judas of the promotional material: Giulio Gnagnarini