The mystery of the Bambino Jesu.
Pictured, "St Francis receiving the stigmata", El Greco
I looked everywhere for a painting of St. John of the Cross dancing in ecstasy with the Infant Jesus - I could find nothing. Perhaps I should paint something - I did so once and sold it without documenting it, therefore it is lost forever.
At Christmas I often meditate upon the birth of Christ in company with St. Francis of Assisi and St. John of the Cross...both saints who easily became enraptured with the Divine Infant in the arms of the Immaculate Virgin Mother. This painting of Francis somehow conveys to me the mystical grace of such an ecstatic meeting with the Bambino.
Today there remains the charming custom to wait until Christmas eve to place the Bambino in the manger, this is good for liturgical situations, or families who wish to bring the mystery of the night alive for their children - yet I never wait, in fact I always have the Bambino displayed in a little nicho, or shrine, all year - at Christmas he comes out in a special display.
Reflecting on the spirituality of John and Francis, I find it interesting that modern taste deems Francis light of heart, all sort of warm and fuzzy, while John is considered dark, and forbidding, too ascetic and severe for ordinary taste. That is silly. Francis may have been more severe than John in many respects. Nonetheless, both were balanced, spiritual men, passionately in love with the Divine Infant Jesus.
By the way, St. Francis did not invent the creche, he popularized it.