With just under 34 days until Christmas, the Pope has put a dampener on the festive period by rubbishing the idea that donkeys or any other animal have a place in the traditional nativity scene.
Benedict XVI also claims angels never sang to the shepherds to proclaim Christ birth's - trashing the much-loved carol 'Hark! The herald angels sing' in the process.From this falsehood the tradition of singing carols was born, the Pope says.
His views are revealed in his latest and last installment of three volumes on the life of Jesus, released today, which is set to be a worldwide bestseller.
Almost every Christian church in the world will soon be blowing the dust off its traditional nativity set with its array of animals but the Pope is clear that it would not have included any beast whatsoever.
St Peter's Square itself regularly has a giant scene at Christmas and has displayed an array of animals at the heart of the Vatican, but the Pontiff is certain that is wrong.
'In the gospels there is no mention of animals,’ he writes, saying that they were probably a Hebrew invention of the seventh century BC, as outlined in the Book of Habakkuk.
Habakkuk was the eighth book of 12 minor prophets in the Old Testament.
In Christian tradition, he is regarded by some as a prophet who predicted the nativity.
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