Mr Bernard Yeo (below) handcrafted items in the Nativity scene for the church, such as the inn (above), which had no room for Mary and Joseph.Mr Bernard Yeo (below) handcrafted items in the Nativity scene for the church, such as the inn (above), which had no room for Mary and Joseph.Visitors to the Church of St Ignatius these days would be greeted by an intricately crafted Nativity scene measuring 6.7 m by 4 m.

The display, in front of the main church, is largely the work of parishioner Bernard Yeo, a businessman.

In addition to the familiar figurines of the Holy Family and the three kings, which were provided by the church, Mr Yeo handcrafted the inn that was too full to take in Mary and Joseph, a market building, a side house, a well, furniture, farm animals and a stream flowing through a miniature village.

He used materials such as wood, ice-cream sticks and Styrofoam for his replicas.

Other items such as miniature fruits and vegetables, and gunny sacks of grain, were bought during his travels overseas.

Mr Yeo has created Nativity scenes for the church in the past few years, but this has been his largest project so far, one that parish priest Fr Philip Heng asked him to undertake.

“I got this idea ... from my travels to Europe, especially Rome when I saw that the Nativity scene displayed there had a village and told the story of Jesus’ birth in a more picturesque and interesting manner,” said Fr Heng.

To make the objects, Mr Yeo used a bedroom in his house as a studio. “It was the Holy Spirit that kept me going,” said Mr Yeo, who presented the Nativity scene to the church as a gift.

“My wife was amazed that on some nights I would stay up as late as four in the morning to do the work!”

Mr Yeo said he researched the era to find out the type of fruits and vegetables people ate then as well as their household items.

“It was truly a labour of love and it was made with the intention that it had to last for years to come, so although some items may be small they had to be lasting,” he added.

Fr Heng said he hopes the display would help those who view it “celebrate the coming of Christ into our hearts and homes” and reach out to the marginalised.

By Martin See
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