Spirit of Christmas Tour

This post was originally written years ago. I should probably get rid of it. Heck, this tour can’t even go to most of the places I have in the pics. But I need to leave it here… if for no other reason than to serve as a visual remembrance of how far we’ve come over the years.

Below you’ll find pictures of the church that now holds Taft’s Ale House on Race Street (see Stop #3 below). And Brother Tim no longer displays his nativity sets in the friary (although you can now see them at the Moerlein Taproom each year). I hope Prince of Peace Lutheran Church has gotten some love over the years too!

Here you go… my post from 2012:

Here we are with another installment of “365 Things to do in Cincinnati” and today we are recapping a tour we recently enjoyed – The Spirit of Christmas Tour.

spirit of christmas tour st francis altar
St. Francis Seraph

The Spirit of Christmas Tour is rather unique. The tour takes you into and through a number of amazing, old Over the Rhine churches.

Our first stop was at First Lutheran Church on Race.  The church’s Pastor Lorne met us in the church.  He told us about the church’s past history (built in 1814, 170 year old congregation) as well as their more recent endeavors including operating a learning center with reading classes and GED prep and testing.

spirit of christmas tour first lutheran
spirit of christmas tour first lutheran stained glass

Our next stop was Nast Trinity United Methodist. Founded in 1880, this church served the German population of the area.  The church continues to serve the needs of its local residents by providing meals and worship services for the community.

spirit of christmas tour nast methodist church

Stop #3 was a complete surprise to me – a new tour stop addition for this year – a tour of the inside of a 100+ year old church which is currently undergoing major renovation.  The (now shell of a) church is located at the corner of 15th and Race.  3CDC  has taken this building on as a project and has done a wonderful job in saving this building from demolition.  Construction efforts thus far have been to stabilize the foundation of the structure, saving it from further deterioration in hopes of finding a new use for the building.

spirit of christmas tour 3cdc church
spirit of christmas tour 3cdc church

Our next stop was Prince of Peace Lutheran Church.  This church, like most of the others on the tour, provides services for area residents.  Prince of Peace serves as a “warming shelter overflow”.  The church offers residents computer access during office hours, mentoring services, phone use for local calls, as well as Bible studies and devotions.

spirit of christmas tour prince of peace from above
spirit of christmas tour prince of peace altar
spirit of christmas tour prince of peace details

After that, we had one last stop – St. Francis Seraph.  Along the walk from Prince of Peace to St. Francis, I stumbled upon this sign at the corner of Republic.  It really makes you think about how this area started and what has transpired over the years.

spirit of christmas tour bremen street sign

Our final stop – St. Francis Seraph.  This stop alone makes the cost of the tour worth it.  You’ll get to go inside this beautiful church of course…

spirit of christmas tour st francis seraph

but you’ll also get to see the AMAZING Christmas displays that the resident Priests put up each year.  We started with the outdoor nativity scene (free and open to the public – click here for info) which features a number of live animals within the manger.

spirit of christmas tour nativity at st francis
spirit of christmas tour nativity at st francis seraph
Ruby, the goat who actually POSED for the cameras… so funny!

And then it was inside to enjoy the winter wonderland of Christmas decor… Half of the priests’ dining area houses a Christmas village, with yards of villages and scenery.

spirit of christmas tour dickens village

Brother Tim collects nativity scenes from all around the world.  Over the years, he has installed lighted shelves down the hall and puts the nativity sets out for Christmas.  They’re all marked with a sign signifying the set’s country of origin.  Here’s a very small sampling:

spirit of christmas tour nativity sets at st francis
Peru
spirit of christmas tour nativity set at st francis
Ireland

We happened to be with Brother Tim (who accompanies the tour) and he told us a heartwarming story about one of his nativity sets.  We were admiring this set and…

spirit of christmas tour st francis nativity set

Brother Tim told us the story of its origin.  This set has personal meaning to Father Tim.  As a young boy, Brother Tim’s mother was in the hospital at Christmas. Brother Tim and his brother pooled their saved money and purchased this set for her room at the hospital.  Years later, this set is in perfect condition and wonderful to admire.  While going through some of his mother’s things recently, Brother Tim actually found the receipt for this set – $13!!!

spirit of christmas tour father tim st francis seraph

And there’s more!

spirit of christmas tour st francis seraph
spirit of christmas tour st francis seraph
from the Santa collection

I can highly recommend The Spirit of Christmas Tour.  You’ll love getting to see the insides of these historic churches and, in my opinion, getting to see the Christmas displays at St. Francis Seraph is worth the price of the entire tour ticket.

2019 addition: The Spirit of Christmas Tour is no longer offered.

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