The Hermitage of Greccio Sanctuary is one of the four shrines erected by St. Francis , along with the Sanctuary of Fonte Colombo , the Sanctuary of the Forest , and the convent of Poggio Bustone . Located about 15 km from the capital of the province of Rieti , is recessed at an altitude of 665 m above sea level , in the rocks of the mountains in the immediate vicinity of the medieval village of Greccio with stunning views of the wide valley of Rieti . The rumors about how St. Francis chose this place steep chase but the most striking is certainly that of the child to whom the poor man of Assisi did throw a firebrand who , flying like an arrow , ended its run on the rock wall of a molehill owned by a feudal lord of Greccio , the Velita . There was built the current hermitage . The same Velita in 1223 pushed San Francisco to give life to a splendid evocation , with live people , the birth of Christ on Christmas Eve . Legend has it that the little boy , the only character not living re-enactment , came to life before returning inanimate . Since then Greccio and its sanctuary is the country ‘s first crib in the world . Later it was twinned with Bethlehem .cting the Madonna and Child with Saints Bishops .